Are We There Yet?

By Anonymous on Friday, January 13, 2012.

Two years after the earthquake, I find myself asking are we there yet?  We knew recovery would be difficult.  The earthquake was one of the worst natural disasters the western hemisphere has ever experienced and arguably the worst urban disaster ever.  Haiti’s institutions were/are weak.  For decades, NGOs have been providing the services that a strong, capable, and accountable government should.  One indication of recovery is the extent to which Haiti’s half million internally displaced persons (IDPs) are able to access new homes and livelihoods.

 

Haiti received millions upon millions of dollars after the earthquake – or to be more accurate, the NGOs and international organizations that either were or became active in Haiti received millions upon millions of dollars.  These funds went for water, sanitation, tents, food, and other basic needs.  However, transition can only begin when Haiti’s government is able to shoulder some of the burden that the NGOs have been carrying.  Without plans, what are we working torward?  Money can support but cannot buy the solutions.  Policies on eminent domain, land tenure, and decentralization are needed to get the country back on the path to development.  As far as IDPs go, forced evictions are not uncommon as private landowners want their properties back.  The Haitian government should be doing more to help the displaced - not so much providing charity as opportunities to work and become self-reliant.

There has been some progress.  Rubble has been cleared.  Infrastructure is being developed.  Investors remain interested. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) ended 2011 with the Investment Forum in held in Port au Prince in collaboration with the Haitian government and Clinton Foundation. The forum attracted more than 1,000 business people who came together to consider investment in Haiti.  It has been confirmed that a Korean apparel manufacture Sae-A plan on investing $78 million to build an industrial park in the northern region of Haiti, employing 200,000 local Haitians.  The Spanish government announced they will help Haiti improve water utilities in Port au Prince had have identified foreign experts to assist.  The French Development Agency (AFD), the Columbian Coffee Grower Federation and Nestlé have plans to improve Haiti’s production of coffee.  An hour outside of Port au Prince, Partners in Health is building what will be Haiti’s largest and best public hospital.  Yet at the same time, National Palace, a symbol of sovereignty, still stands with no work having been done to restore it, or at a minimum, to remove what is left of it.  At least the Neg Maron still stands.

A government must set priorities, make hard decisions, and see them through.  One pressing but very challenging issues concerns how to rehabilitate the environment in a low resource country where the vast majority of people cook with wood based charcoals.  Haiti’s Prime Minister Garry Conille intends to increase governmental leadership on the environment.  Only 1.5% of Haiti’s vegetation is currently in existence and  the target is to increase reforestation by 3.5% within the next five years though the Green Border Project.  It includes watershed management, reforestation, renewable energy and irrigation in the South East and North East regions of Haiti.

For Haitians and Friends of Haiti, the fact is that the pace of recovery can’t be fast enough.  We all hoped for more over the past two years.  But change has been slow.  We still need international assistance and will for years to come.  More than this though, we need the strong, transparent and effective government that the Haitian people deserve.  We also need the government and civil society to fight for human rights – not for some – but for all.  We need more solidarity and less charity.  More capacity building and less hand outs. Haitians know what they want if you ask them – yet one can't help but have the impression that there are organizations that would prefer to speak for Haitians than have a dialogue with them.  I cannot wait for the day that when I see images of Haiti that will showcase what is right and beautiful about the country – not just the suffering - images that show Haitians as active and engaged, not helpless individuals whose sole purpose in life is to be saved by foreigners – be they aid workers or missionaries.  I want to see school children going on to become the leaders that Haiti needs.   We can't import leadership.  Still, I have nothing but hope which has been passed down from my grandparents, to my father and mother, and down through me.  No, we are not there yet –but one day we will be.

Jasmine

"Piti, piti waszo fe nich li"

Little by little a bird makes its nest

Haiti Unveils Plan to Fight Extreme Povery (Bernama -12/18/2013)

The Haitian government will implement a plan to fight extreme anti-poverty that will benefit 50,000 households in 50 districts in capital Port-au-Prince, Xinhua news agency reported. Marie-Carmelle Rose-Anne Auguste, Minister of Human Rights and Fight Against Extreme Poverty, said the programme launched by government departments and agencies would initially be applied over a six-month period through social welfare offices. "We want the people to not only overcome extreme poverty, but be inspired to take part in the fight against it. Citizens should not be mere observers but participants in these actions," the minister said. Some 54 percent of the country's population face extreme poverty and live on less than US$1.25 a day. The first two months of the programme focuses on identifying and creating a single registry of beneficiaries. Some 5,000 mothers are expected to be registered for aid programmes while 7,000 adults will be enrolled in literacy activities. The government will distribute 50,000 food vouchers and 350,000 baskets of basic goods, establish 20 vegetable gardens, repair 2,500 homes and create 1,000 jobs. Four anti-poverty programmes launched under the government's Economic and Social Aid Fund (FAES) last year have helped 480,000 Haitians.

USAID/OTI Closes in Haiti, Celebrates Achievements (9/20/13)

On Thursday, September 19, 2013, the USAID Mission in Haiti held a close-out celebration of its Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), which started the U.S. Government’s Haiti Recovery Initiative following the 2010 earthquake. OTI completed over 900 projects in Haitian communities and helped thousands of Haitians gain employment opportunities and improve their lives during the past three and a half years. The festive event was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White, USAID Mission Director John Groarke, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Latin American and Caribbean Bureau Beth Hogan, Acting Director of OTI Stephen Lennon, and representatives of the Haitian Government, community organizations and groups. The assistance provided through USAID/OTI, done in close coordination with close to 1,000 Haitian groups and partner organizations, aimed to strengthen relationships between Haitian citizens and the Government of Haiti and empower Haitians to take control of their own lives.
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“The Haiti Recovery Initiative is among the U.S. Government’s biggest earthquake response programs, and throughout its entire lifetime, the program has remained committed to helping Haitians rebuild their communities and work with national and local leadership to prioritize and respond to community needs,” said Ambassador White at the closing event. USAID/OTI’s $155 million program supported the U.S. Government earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti in the regions of Port-au-Prince, Saint Marc and Cap Haitien. This assistance was divided into two distinct phases: a) 2010-2011 post-earthquake rapid emergency response efforts, and, b) 2011-2013 transitional assistance activities aiming to stabilize communities, strengthen the Government of Haiti’s service capacity, and increase citizens’ involvement in making decisions about and managing their own communities.
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Immediately after the earthquake, the program focused on providing emergency relief to displaced people, including tents, blankets, and emergency kits, and contributing to the overall recovery efforts, such as removal of 860,000 cubic meters of rubble, 32% of the total rubble USAID helped remove, as well as providing cash for work opportunities to more than 45,000 people. USAID/OTI also helped rehabilitate damaged infrastructure and provide temporary structures, such as the Parliament building, and the Ministries of Agriculture, Planning, Justice, and Communications and Culture. To address critical information needs after the earthquake, the program supported “News You Can Use” broadcasts, short radio programs developed by local journalists to disseminate humanitarian assistance and cholera awareness news to the public.
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In 2011-2013, USAID/OTI’s focus shifted from responding to immediate humanitarian needs to strengthening community stability by funding initiatives that increased citizens’ engagement and strengthened the Government of Haiti’s capacity to provide public services. In addition to hundreds of community projects, the program helped resettle over 1,300 earthquake-affected families from camps in Place Boyer and Place St. Pierre in Petion-Ville near Port-au-Prince, rehabilitate public spaces, such as community centers and recreational facilities, promote public security by installing over 1700 solar lights in key neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, St. Marc and Cap-Haitien, and provide vocational training and job skills development to over 1,500 Haitians. USAID/ OTI’s Haiti Recovery Initiative laid the groundwork for other U.S. Government programs working in partnership with the Government of Haiti to improve Haiti’s health care, infrastructure, economy, rule of law and education for a more prosperous and stable Haiti.

Rehabilitation of Evacuation Shelters in Haiti Begins

9/20/2013
IOM
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IOM Haiti this week began work on a USD 1 million project funded by the Haitian Government through the Economic and Social Assistance Fund (FAES). The scheme will rehabilitate five evacuation shelters in high-risk areas of the country to provide safe haven to vulnerable populations in case of hurricanes or other natural disasters. The physical infrastructure work will be complemented with training and institutional capacity reinforcement in mass evacuation and shelter management. For the last ten years, IOM has provided support to the Haitian Civil Protection (DPC) and other government offices to strengthen their emergency preparedness and response capacity, including the continued development of the mass evacuation system. The system was successfully tested during the 2012 hurricane season when vulnerable populations were safely evacuated during Tropical Storm Isaac in August and Hurricane Sandy in October. Haiti faces extreme environmental vulnerability and has, in the past, been victim to numerous natural disasters. This vulnerability is further compounded by the fact that more than 270,000 internally displaced Haitians are still living in 352 camps, of which about 100 remain at particular risk of flooding, landslides or other environmental challenges.
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“As it is common in regions prone to flooding and tropical cyclones, and as a result of Haiti’s deforestation and environmental vulnerability as well as the increasing frequency and intensity of storms caused by climate change, continued development of Haiti’s evacuation system remains extremely important. We need to continue developing this system to better protect vulnerable populations in case of natural disasters,” explains IOM Haiti Emergency Preparedness and Response focal point Brad Mellicker. The one year project will start with the identification of five suitable spaces to either build or rehabilitate as evacuation shelters. They will be located in strategically selected areas of the country that are particularly prone to flooding and other deadly damage caused by tropical storms. Over the past few years, IOM has provided support to the government in the construction or rehabilitation of more than 30 evacuation shelters, the drafting of the first ever Haiti-specific policy on evacuation shelters, structural evaluations of potential shelters in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, a national inventory of shelters and operational support for evacuations.
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For more information please contact
Brad Mellicker
IOM Haiti
Tel: +509 3702 7593
Email: bmellicker@iom.int

Haiti Holds First Meeting on New Foreign Aid Committee

5/13/2013
By the Caribbean Journal staff
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Haiti and its international donors held the first-ever meeting of the new Committee on Coordination of External Aid for the Development of Haiti, an initiative the government said would communicate reconstruction funding “more effectively.” While there has been no shortage of funding targeted for Haiti in the three years since the earthquake, its disbursement has been another story, as reported in film “Haiti: Where Did the Money Go,” which was released in 2011. Under the new paradigm, Haiti is seeking to channel more aid through the government itself, replacing the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti. That committee, which was created in April 2010 following the earthquake, had been co-chaired by former US President Bill Clinton and former Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.
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Following the meeting, the committee released a statement expressing the desire of Haiti and its international donors “to align their particular technical and financial support on development policies and priorities for government intervention.” “Under the leadership of the government of Haiti and within the CAED, development partners and the government of Haiti are committed to defining an agreement of mutual responsibility to help achieve tangible results and sustainable development,” the committee said. “This commitment shall specify the objectives, expectations, roles, responsibilities and mutual commitments.”
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Lamothe said he hoped the new committee, which includes 16 Haitians and 16 foreigners, would “improve and accelerate the disbursement of reconstruction funds.” “Under this framework the government has navigated between our developmental legacies, our vulnerability to natural events, and, our recurrent need for the right type of foreign assistance,” said Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who chairs the 32-member committee. “We are convinced that what we are doing today is setting the stage for the kind of country that we all want Haiti to be in 2030.” Those attending Friday’s meeting included Clinton.

In Haiti, Billions Spent But Little Done (4/28/2013)

Globe and Mail
By LIAM LACEY
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Raoul Peck is an internationally celebrated Haitian filmmaker of documentary and feature films (The Man on the Shore, Lumumba: Death of the Prophet) who, in the mid-1990s, was briefly the Minister of Culture for Haiti. In January 2010, Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, was devastated by an earthquake that killed 250,000 people and left more than one-million people homeless – a 10th of the population. In his new documentary, Fatal Assistance, shot over two years, Peck examined the failure of the $11-billion international relief effort in which thousands of contracts were given to foreign companies while Haitians were mostly left out of the reconstruction process. And only a fraction of the money made it to those in need.
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I spoke to Peck by phone from Paris. You show a tragedy that was compounded by arrogance and venality and political posturing – what you call the ‘paternalistic monster’ of international aid. What can an ordinary, well-meaning person do to help?
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Be more involved. Ask questions. Using the excuse of the emergency, many NGO’s violated the basic principles and created great problems. The first rule is to do no harm: Don’t leave a big footprint by undermining local authorities, or importing merchandise that undermines the economy. And trust the local people to know what’s best for themselves. One of the people who provides that in the film Priscilla Phelps, an American housing advisor with the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, who is seen repeatedly challenging the decision-making process. How did you find her?
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For the first six or eight months, we talked to a lot of different people and went different places. Priscilla was one of the people working for IHRC I met early on, and she clearly knew her stuff. She had been in the field, dealing with victims of the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, and she has a way of summarizing issues that is very filmic.
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In an otherwise hard-hitting film, you use a rather poetic device with a voiceover structure – letters between a foreign aid worker and a male Haitian resident. What drew you to this technique?
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I realized that this story was too complex and I had to make it more personal, to put my own interpretation on the events. The man’s observations were my own, from my journal, where I’d record my mood, what was making me angry, what was going on each day. The women’s voices were edited from a real woman’s e-mails, but she did not want her name used. Much of this was too intimate and painful for her.
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Do you think film can help?
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I wanted to provoke the discussion and the film has already done that. I could have made a much more radical and destructive film. In the 400 hours of material, there are some pretty heavy scandals. It wasn’t my goal to bring anyone down but to get people to question how this machine works. The film has been widely seen, especially in Haiti, and led to extensive discussions on radio and in the government, even at the American Embassy.
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In Berlin, someone asked me: ‘What do you say to the German grandmother who sent her 50 euros to the poor Haitian children?’ The cynic might say, ‘Well, it didn’t make much difference to the Haitians because they didn’t see the money.’ The issue here is to look at the machine between the donor and the receiver, which is not working in either of their interests.
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This interview has been edited and condensed.
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Fatal Assistance screens May 5, 6 p.m, ROM Theatre.

Haiti Renames Airport for Hugo Chavez (AP-4/19/2013)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haiti is naming an airport in the country's north after the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an official said Thursday. Cap-Haitien International Airport will now be called the Hugo Chavez International Airport, said Gary Bodeau, a spokesman for Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe. The airport's 17,500-foot runway was repaved in October with a loan from the Venezuelan government. The repair came just in time for the inauguration of an industrial park in the north that is largely financed by the U.S. government.
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Like the U.S., Venezuela has been one of Haiti's biggest supporters. Venezuela pledged $1.2 billion for Haiti, more than any other country, following the 2010 earthquake but has released just $222 million. Venezuela's PetroCaribe fund has also helped Haiti. Haiti has used millions of money from the pact that was created in 2005 to pay for fuel, renovate power stations and develop a social program for the country's poorest people. Both Lamothe and President Michel Martelly attended Chavez's funeral and Martelly left Haiti on Thursday to attend the inauguration of Venezuelan President-elect Nicolas M

Ambitious Social Programs Underway in Haiti (CNN-4/9/2013)

From cash transfers to the elderly and disabled, to hot meals and subsidies for students and farmers, the government of Haiti has launched the largest and most structured social assistance program ever implemented in this impoverished Caribbean country. In an interview with the Haitian-Caribbean News Network (HCNN), Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, said his government, under the leadership of President Michel Martelly, has established a National Social Assistance Program to demonstrate solidarity with the nation's poor. "Our government feels a strong commitment to help," said Lamothe. "When 57 percent of the country's 10 million people exist on under US $1 per day and 82 percent on less than US $2 per day, we have an obligation to act." Already, millions of dollars have been directed to the program, known in Creole as EDE PEP (Help the People), with a million people benefiting to date. The ambitious goal is to assist more than five million Haitians by 2016.
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Under EDE PEP's Economic and Social Assistance Fund, action is underway to regularly transfer cash to a first group of 25,000 handicapped and 25,000 elderly Haitians in need. As part of a plan to assist 100,000 destitute mothers this year, 57,000 have already received cash transfers. More than 22,000 students are set to receive subsidies, while 60,000 farming kits will be distributed to farm workers in rural areas. More than 100,000 emergency coupons and nearly half a million hot meals have been distributed through two motorized mobile kitchens in the poorer districts of Port-au-Prince and in provincial cities. Within the next 12 months, the government plans to distribute 818,000 solidarity baskets containing items that can help feed a family of five for up to 10 days. 400,000 baskets have already been distributed. "This is the first time Haiti has attempted such a vast and orderly social initiative," Lamothe told HCNN. "The US $76 million allocated to the program represents 0.4% of Haiti's per capita GDP." With US $15 million of the US $76 already spent, the government is looking for additional funds to expand the program. "Our goal is to lift as many people as possible out of poverty and to set up a social safety net that will guarantee acceptable living conditions for most Haitians," said Lamothe."With the National Social Assistance Program, we want to lay the foundations toward achieving that goal."

Venezuelan Oil Program Fuels Uncertainy (4/4/2013)

Miami Herald
By Jacqueline Charles
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In the Dominican Republic, discounts on Venezuelan oil imports keep the lights on. In Jamaica, they are helping a limping economy stay afloat, and in Haiti, a young and inexperienced leadership is using them to achieve quick results. But despite financial benefits of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’s Petrocaribe oil agreement with cash-strapped Caribbean countries, analysts and critics say inadequate oversight has contributed to a lack of transparency in many of the 17 beneficiary nations. In almost every case, the program has allowed governments to postpone politically unpopular but critical economic reforms. And while Petrocaribe debt carries only a 1 percent interest rate, the size of the accumulated debt is raising serious concerns about repayment. The Petrocaribe program provides crude to the countries but allows a two to three-year grace period. Payments are stretched over 17 to 25 years at 1 percent interest. The intent was designed to allow the countries to plow the savings into programs to develop their economies. The future of the program has become particularly relevant as Venezuelans prepare to head to the polls on April 14 to elect a new leader. Amid a tough economy, opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles has said he plans to scrap the program. Meanwhile, acting President Nicolás Maduro might be left with no choice but to scale back.
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But as the election approaches, analysts say now is as good a time as any for Caribbean nations to start weaning themselves off the subsidy. “Foreign aid is the easiest thing to cut,” said Risa Grais-Targow, a Latin America analyst with New York-based Eurasia Group, a global political risk firm that predicts a reduction in Petrocaribe for all except Cuba should Maduro win. “Countries have been able to avoid making some necessary adjustments or agreeing to more stringent multilateral loans. I think they are going to be forced to do that.” Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Washington-based think tank, the Inter-American Dialogue, said the cuts, “will most likely be very damaging,” especially for the region’s poor who have suffered under rising double import food and fuel bills in recent years. “It looks pretty grim for the future,” said Hakim, a proponent of the aid. That reality isn’t lost on Caribbean leaders, who in the months before Chávez’s death from cancer, attended vigils to pray for his health while publicly refusing to entertain notions of what impact his death would have on their finances. Many have been racking up huge debt since Venezuela began shipping barrels of cheap oil to them in 2005 and they dipped into the savings to fund everything from new roads to social programs to even elections. But even with its no-strings-attached requirements, the results have been mixed, said analyst Heather Berkman, who tracks Jamaica and the Dominican Republic for the Eurasia Group. “The most notorious case is the Dominican Republic, where they have been transferring funds from Petrocaribe to keep their power sector afloat, not making any adjustments,” she said.
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The Dominican Republic, Berkman noted, has avoided passing tariffs or cracking down on electricity theft while racking up a $3 billion fuel bill. Also troubling is Jamaica’s predicament. The heavily indebted nation is using the cheap oil financing to roll over more expensive debt as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, which is trying to help Jamaica resuscitate its ailing economy. Jamaican officials estimate an end to Petrocaribe could cost the country $600 million a year. Already, the country has amassed about $2.4 billion fuel bill, said Wesley Hughes, the chief executive of the PetroCaribe Development Fund in Jamaica, according to a statement on the government’s website. Traditional foreign donors and multilaterals have always found the lack of transparency and accountability around Petrocaribe worrisome, especially as they try to change the culture of corruption and get countries to adopt responsible financial management. This has been especially true in Haiti where the U.S. and other donors required the adoption of anti-corruption measures before erasing $1.2 billion in debt in a 2009 agreement.
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After the monstrous Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, Venezuela also forgave Haiti’s $395 million Petrocaribe debt, according to the Haitian government. But by December 2012, Haiti had amassed more than $903 million in debt, according to government figures. “How ironic it is that the standard Washington donors helped pave the way for the forgiveness of Haiti’s debt, and here we are three years later and there is a government that has run up the debt, the lion share of that, to Venezuela,” said Robert Maguire, director of George Washington University’s Latin America and Hemispheric Studies Program. “When does someone in Congress stand up and say, ‘What the hell is going on in Haiti with Petrocaribe and why are we funding this government that is also building up this debt to Venezuela?’ ” he said. The aid program, Maguire noted, makes “governments akin to college kids with their parents’ credit card.”
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Beginning in May, Haiti will have to begin paying for the oil as the three-year grace period ends in May. By the end of 2013, some economists say, the country will have the largest public debt ever in its history. Earlier this month, Haiti’s Senate Finance Committee head, Sen. Jocelerme Privert accused the government of poorly managing Petrocaribe funds — a criticism the country’s finance minister vehemently rejected, saying all projects are government priorities. So far, donors have been mute about the debt implications, although days before the quake, the IMF was considering denying Haiti grants because then-President René Préval had arranged to borrow up to $33 million from another Venezuela fund to upgrade the Cap-Haïtien airport. Donors have repeatedly warned Haitian officials they risk losing their financing if Petrocaribe funds are not reflected in the national budget. At issue currently are $432 million of no-bid contracts from the ministries of public works and agriculture, issued after Hurricane Sandy last fall. Almost all are being financed by Petrocaribe and some have nothing to do directly with storm damage. Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe defends the projects, saying when a major storm like Sandy hits, Haiti doesn’t have the luxury of waiting 12-18 months to complete a bid. “If we can take a faster road to recovery we will, so long as it’s legal,” he said. “We have to give results and fast, in light of a very difficult economic situation.”

Above Port au Prince, Seven Fast Growing Neighborhoods

3/29/2013
Next City
By ALLISON SHELLEY
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Seven neighborhoods cling to the side of Morne L’Hôpital, a steep hill that rises above one of the most exclusive suburbs of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It was my longtime motorcycle chauffer, Francois, who first took me up here to show off his new land. Like a chorus of church bells, the sound of mallets striking rebar filled the air. Once, this meant that residents were digging out valuable metal for resale. Now, it means construction — a lot of which has been happening on Morne L’Hôpital lately, as two-thirds of this otherwise green hill of scrubby brush has been covered over with cinder block. Nicolas Coras, 37, lives in the Menard neighborhood, two ravines over from Francois. He explained how to settle here: Find someone to sell you a land title, build a home and start paying taxes. Simple. Six years ago he paid $560 in U.S. dollars for his plot, where he has been steadily adding to the home that he shares with his wife and two little girls. “The earthquake barely touched us here,” he said. Furthermore, there is a loophole. “As long as your house is still under construction,” said Jenny Francois, Coras’ neighbor and of no relation to my chauffeur, “you don’t have to pay taxes.” She and eight of her family members, who moved from a neighborhood near the Port-au-Prince airport two years ago, now live in the one completed room of what is to be a four-room home with a generous yard. Walls of the second room are up, with openings left for window frames and a tarp as a temporary roof. While many residents on Morne L’Hôpital relocated because of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, many more, like Coras and Jenny Francois, did not come to the mountain fleeing damaged homes. They had simply been renters from various parts of Port-au-Prince looking to upgrade. According to officials, people with similar dreams began settling on this slope as far back as 50 years ago. Given the notoriously archaic and much-maligned Haitian land tenure system, which stalls development in much of the region, here is a well-oiled process allowing residents to seemingly claim property for the average cost of a year’s rent in the more established Port-au-Prince neighborhoods.
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This is urban growth, Haitian style, as necessity has forced it to evolve. It now continues in the vacuum of unsuccessful development schemes and the wake of post-quake spiked rents. The only problem: It’s based on a fiction. Jean François Thomas, Haiti’s Minister of the Environment, left, green hat, tours a ravine that floods during the rainy season at Morne L’Hôpital, a hill containing seven rapidly expanding neighborhoods overlooking Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 12, 2013. The floods have caused dangerous landslides in recent years that have killed area residents. “It’s illegal,” says Dr. Jean-François Thomas, Haiti’s new Minister of the Environment. “The land is all owned by the government.” In fact Morne L’Hôpital is under special environmental protection, covered by a 1963 law and a decree issued in 1986. And the government has finally sounded the alarm. “Morne L’Hôpital had been a highly important zone in terms of water absorption,” Thomas said. “This country is mountains. Everything goes from up to down here. Now with the hill covered in concrete, rain continues down in a big flood, all the way through Port-au-Prince. There are landslides all of the time.” He describes the situation as catastrophic.
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Thomas said that the pace of settlement has ramped up in the past 20 years. Le Matin, a local daily paper, reports the population of Morne l’Hôpital at 246,000, with more than 50,000 homes extending from affluent Petionville to quake epicenter Carrefour. Former Deputy Chief Minister of the Environment Pierre André Gedeon called the building “anarchic.” Last June, his ministry marked over 400 houses that lay in the floodplain for demolition, sparking angry protests and teargas — which stopped the plan in its tracks. Thomas, appointed in January and the third official to hold his post in less than a year, has a different attitude. “We waited too long,” he admitted during a recent site visit, surrounded by heavy security. “Many of the people have lived here a long time and, we know, have no way out. We can’t punish them by kicking them out because we did not react before now.” His plan focuses on making the most of the remaining virgin land. Dubbed Ann Sove Lavi nan Mòn Lopital — or “Let’s Save Lives on Morne l’Hopital” — it aims to preserve a 500-hectare (1,235-acre) “green gate” buffer around the existing homes and to stabilize the ravine using concrete tanks: One to filter out rocks and sand, the other to retain water to slow the flow during heavy rain. Thomas touted the program as a job creator, with local residents to be hired as part of a 1,000-member team for the seven-month reforestation work. His initiative also includes putting an immediate halt to new development. Like many other ambitious, well-intentioned programs in Haiti doomed by frequent cabinet turnovers and a lack of funding, Thomas’ may never come to fruition. But while curtailing construction might fix several of the city’s glaring problems, it exacerbates another: Access to land and affordable housing. Meanwhile, Coras is stuck. Before the earthquake he moved neighborhoods every several years. But while the disaster did not destroy his home, it did do away with his job at the municipal water sanitation plant. Now, like many others, he scrapes together work here and there. But with no rent to pay he has no incentive to leave. Francois, for his part, said he couldn’t wait to move his family in. He walked me across a well-laid foundation marking where interior walls will go up. Here, the entry hall, there, a room for his baby girl — all her own. He explained how the roof will be corrugated and catch water during the rains for household use. And then he pointed toward the horizon. “Just look,” he said. “You can see all the way to the sea.”

Haiti to Open Consulate in Suriname (3/25/2013)

Caribbean News New!
By Ivan Cairo
Caribbean News Now
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PARAMARIBO, Suriname -- In a bid to strengthen bilateral relations with Suriname and offer diplomatic services to its nationals, Haiti will open a consulate in Suriname. Haitian President Michel Martelly informed his fellow countrymen this Saturday at a meeting in Jarikaba, Suriname. The Haitian leader arrived in Suriname on Friday for a two-day official visit. “Before the end of April we will open a consulate in Paramaribo. Suriname will also establish a diplomatic post in Port-au-Prince,” he told his audience. Haitians living in Suriname are having difficulties in obtaining official documents such as passports, birth certificates and other relevant papers, since they have to send their requests all the way to Curacao, French-Guiana or even Washington for processing. “Sometimes it takes as long as four months before we receive or documents,” said Déjean Fleurentin, chairman of the Haiti-Suriname Cultural Association (ACHS). Several thousand Haitian immigrants are living in Suriname and play a significant role in Suriname’s agriculture and banana sectors. Martelly informed his fellow countrymen that the Haitian and Suriname authorities are working closely together to resolve problems regarding Haitian nationals who have been living illegally in Suriname for many years. He warned however against abuse of the services both countries will offer to resolve the matter. Individuals should provide evidence that they have indeed been living in Suriname for many years and have a steady job.
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Suriname’s minister of foreign affairs, Winston Lackin, said in an invited comment that the bilateral talks with the Haitian delegation, which started Friday afternoon, will focus on several issues. He noted that the Suriname government is seeking secure rice exports to Haiti. According to Lackin, Haiti needs about 400,000 tonnes of rice annually. “We want to secure a portion of that market for our rice farmers,” said the minister. The two nations are also discussing the establishment of direct flights between Paramaribo and Port-au-Prince. On Sunday the two countries were due to sign a bilateral agreement regarding cooperation in several fields and sectors.

Haiti: A Hope, A Promise, an Opportunity (3/15/2013)

Huffington Post
By Dan Glickman
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Last week I had the privilege of joining former President Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and a group of private sector participants on a two-day visit to Haiti, the primary purpose being to examine opportunities for investment in the food and agricultural sectors. President Clinton has visited Haiti dozens of times in the past few years to facilitate humanitarian relief efforts after the tragic earthquake in 2010, and to encourage private sector investments in various sectors, including energy, infrastructure, health care and agriculture. His efforts to rebuild Haiti have been tireless, and it is no wonder that he was justifiably treated like a rock star everywhere we visited. This was my first visit to Haiti, and quite frankly I had the impression that real and sustainable progress in Haiti was an impossible dream, that there was little if any private sector involvement in the economy, that crime was everywhere, that humanitarian efforts were the only thing keeping people alive, and that civil society had totally broken down. While many structural problems remain in truth it is a country on the mend with great possibilities and opportunities for American investors. Especially when one considers that nearly 3 percent of the Haitian people were killed in the earthquake, many more injured, even more homeless, and the infrastructure of the country virtually destroyed. Even in the face of this monumental catastrophe, I saw progress with my own eyes, and hope in the faces of many Haitians I met.
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Haiti is still in transition to democracy with weak institutions and huge demands from a population still struggling from one of the worst natural disasters in modern history. There are monumental humanitarian and reconstruction needs after the earthquake. Elections and the reinforcement of democracy remain political challenges. Constitutional reforms have been approved, but implementation is slow. Food and nutrition remain challenging problems, especially for smallholder farmers and in rural Haiti. Reforms relating to the pricing of electricity, property rights, real estate incentives, sustainable mining techniques, and of course modern agriculture are all essential. These are all massive challenges, and I don't want to understate them. And on the ground improvements in all of these areas must continue if we want to encourage more private investment and tourism.
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Nonetheless, it was clear that Haiti is now open for business. Historical impediments for private sector investment and development have remarkably improved and there are real opportunities and more favorable conditions for private sector investment. While in Haiti, President Clinton spoke at the opening of a new brewery, one of several businesses he has helped to facilitate, and announced several initiatives in conjunction with private companies to invest in a variety of food, agricultural and reforestation projects. The agricultural sector potential is particularly encouraging, as the soils are rich and fertile and will grow almost anything, and this potential will permit the commercial production of huge varieties of food and industrial crops. I also saw evidence that European, Asian and Latin American companies were beginning major investment. One of the most significant challenges the country faces is in its agriculture sector, especially re-establishing the country's forest cover, as the country's forests have been virtually demolished in recent years because of the use of timber for fuel. Reforestation, and alternative energy development, remain keys for a strong economic revival of the Haitian economy. The farming sector and agribusiness will be fundamental in the future of Haiti's success.
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A new, modern Haiti must be prepared to meet national and international challenges. Modern governance and a rule of law that encourages private investment, promotes environmentally sound practices, and a country more prepared to efficiently deal with human and social needs of the population are all critical for its future. Progress is being made and worldwide government and humanitarian efforts have been helpful. The U.S. needs to keep the pressure on the Haitian government to maintain the development of its democratic institutions. One real positive development is that we were told levels of crime were materially coming down, in many cases lower than in other countries in the region, and the government was continuing to make this a high priority.
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Haiti has benefitted from the goodness of American help, especially in the public and non-profit sectors. The American taxpayer has made critical contributions of food and other aid. My plane from Miami to Port-au-Prince was filled with young American humanitarian workers headed out to help in rebuilding the country. That person-to-person help has been crucial, especially in the food and housing sectors. Several American companies and their charitable arms have begun to make longer term investments in human infrastructure, but the long-term future of Haiti will be predicated on encouraging and sustaining the conditions for the private sector and the business community to invest and build a sustainable economy, and create enough jobs in the process. There is no doubt that President Clinton's personal efforts and the work of the Clinton Foundation helping the Haitian people rebuild their country have been transformational. I came back from my visit extremely encouraged by what I saw and the real progress that is being made. I only hope that our private sector, as well as the federal government and the NGO community, will maintain their commitment and follow President Clinton's leadership. It is in our national interest that Haiti continue to develop and it's also the right thing to do. Dan Glickman served as Secretary of Agriculture in the Clinton administration

Audit Finds US Loan Program in Haiti Flawed (3/4/2013)

Associated Press
By TRENTON DANIEL
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- An audit of a U.S. Agency for International Department program that aimed to boost Haiti's economy by providing loans to businesses has found that the program failed to award loans to intended targets, train workers and keep accurate records. The aim of the audit released in late February by USAID's Office of the Inspector General was to see whether a USAID loan program was indeed introducing lending practices to overlooked areas and borrowers, particularly in the areas of agriculture, construction, tourism, handicrafts and waste management. Most of the loans were supposed to go toward women, first-time borrowers and small- and medium-sized enterprises. The USAID office in Haiti had seven active guarantees worth $37.5 million as of last year. The audit focused on the four largest, worth $31.5 million, two of which were awarded after the devastating earthquake in 2010. They were a Haitian bank named Sogebank, a Haitian development finance institution named Sofihdes that USAID helped create in 1983 and an agriculture-focused outfit named Le Levier Federation.
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The audit found that few women and first-time borrowers received loans and lenders didn't make much effort to work with them. Loans were supposed to go to three "development corridors" identified by the U.S. government as part of its earthquake reconstruction strategy but few did. Instead they stayed in the Port-au-Prince area. Ninety percent of Sogebank's loans were confined to the capital and the bank didn't give loans to other parts of the country. Some 81 percent of the Sofihdes loans were in Haiti's capital. A portfolio manager said Sogebank was supposed to focus initially in Port-au-Prince and expand to the other corridors later, the audit said. Sofihdes, based in the capital, didn't have the resources to expand services to the other areas, the audit added. Training could have been better, the audit also said. The USAID office in Haiti failed to properly train workers who make the loan guarantee coverage decisions. Lenders didn't always understand or carry out program goals and didn't always adjust lending practices to meet the goals. The audit found other problems.
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The loans weren't supposed to go to enterprises that appeared on a list of "prohibited businesses" that supported law enforcement activities, surveillance, gambling, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, and alcohol and jewelry. Loans, however, went to some of these businesses because, the audit said, "lenders didn't have effective practices in place and because USAID didn't periodically review the loans." The loan program sought to expand financial services to underserved areas but most borrowers already had relationships with at least one of the lenders. More than a quarter of the Sofihdes and Sogebank borrowers interviewed by auditors said they could qualify for a loan elsewhere. A radio station in the capital, for example, purchased a generator and was told to get the loan from Sofihdes. The borrower already had a relationship with another Haitian bank and easily qualified for much larger loans.
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Most of the lenders had problems with late payments, but it was "a serious problem" for Sofihdes, with 74 percent and 30 percent of its two guarantees, respectively, more than 90 days late. "The growing number of bad loans occurred because neither Sofihdes nor USAID conducted portfolio reviews to determine whether potential problems existed and whether they needed to take corrective actions," the audit said. "The Sofihdes director was not aware of this problem and believed that the number of claims was actually decreasing." The audit issued more than a dozen recommendations, with which USAID agreed. They included a need to put in place a plan that would ensure timely repayment of loans, along with the possibility of providing more support to Sofihdes or its borrowers. Women and first-time borrowers needed to be targeted for loans, the audit said. The USAID mission said it will begin talking with the financial institutions this month to figure out guidelines for including women and first-time borrowers, and will have a plan to pursue them by mid-June 2013. USAID also said it now has a way to screen borrowers from prohibited activities and remove non-qualifying loans. Sogebank and Le Levier Federation couldn't be immediately reached for comment Monday. An email to Sofihdes wasn't immediately returned.

UN Names New Acing Head for Mission In Haiti (2.1.2013)

The Associated Press
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday appointed a seasoned humanitarian worker to serve as his Acting Special Representative in Haiti to oversee the world body's peacekeeping mission in the Caribbean nation. Nigel Fisher, a Canadian, replaces outgoing U.N. envoy Mariano Fernandez, who is leaving the job after 20 months. Fernandez has said he may consider a foray into politics in his native Chile. Fisher has been Ban Ki-moon's Deputy Special Representative for Haiti since 2010. That year, a massive earthquake struck the country, killing tens of thousands of people and leaving 1.5 million more homeless. He joined the international organization in 1977, and has held senior positions in the U.N. Office for Project Support Services, the U.N. Mission of Support in Afghanistan and the children's agency UNICEF. His assignments have taken him to a dozen countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. As head of peacekeeping, Fisher will oversee the country's security at a politically delicate time. Haiti this year is supposed to hold legislative and local elections, which are expected to be fraught by protests. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym Minustah, has been in the country since 2004, when a violent rebellion ousted then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The force currently is authorized to have up to 6,700 military personnel.

Haiti's Road to Reconstruction Blocked by Land Tenure Disputes

1/16/2013
Reuters
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The smooth black asphalt of National Road No. 7 stretches for about five miles beyond Camp Perrin, a town in fertile southwest Haiti. It abruptly stops before reaching farmer Liphete Denis' front door, replaced by a rocky dirt path that floods in the rainy season and billows dust clouds when the weather turns dry. "I don't know why they stopped," said Denis, 43. "We'd like the road done. We need it." The 56-mile road project was meant to connect the southern port city of Les Cayes with Jérémie, a city in one of Haiti's most neglected regions. It was to resurface a pot-holed road that passes between narrow mountain ranges and fords a flood-prone river, making transportation to Jérémie arduous and dangerous. Instead, the unfinished road has become a symbol of how efforts to improve Haiti's infrastructure, especially after the devastating 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, have run up against the country's land laws. A practically non-existent land registry, fraudulent land titles, unclear processes for land transfer, and a tangle of bureaucracy have halted the road project and similar major international investments. Haiti's land laws have delayed completion of a Spanish-funded water treatment facility on the outskirts of the capital Port-au-Prince and prevented the start of construction on a $26 million public hospital in the city of Gonaives. The Vatican has shied away from building and re-building churches in this strongly Catholic country, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) decided to build permanent houses in the far north of Haiti rather than the more legally challenging capital, where most of the earthquake damage occurred.
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Paving of National Road No. 7 was announced in 2008 by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), in conjunction with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), with a cost of $100 million, which has since risen to $132 million. Brazilian company OAS Construtora won the bidding process with an offer of $94 million and in 2009 moved in to begin working on the first 44-mile stretch of road. To save money, state construction company CNE was to handle another section from Les Cayes to Camp Perrin. Then one day, Denis said, the Brazilians and their heavy machinery were gone. The concrete walls of the small, two-room home he shares with his wife and infant child are still cracked from the shaking caused by OAS' trucks. Some roadside homes were razed by the state to make way for the wider road. Others were slated for demolition, but compensation was haphazard. Denis said he was presented with a hand-written notice in early 2011 saying he would receive the equivalent of $3,000 when his own home was knocked down, but no one ever returned with the money or a bulldozer.
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Halfway to Jérémie, in the village of Beaumont, the story is much the same. In July, roadside homes were marked with red for demolition but they still stand, and it is not clear when the owners will be compensated and, if so, how much they will be paid. National Road No. 7 narrows to a jagged single lane as it approaches Beaumont, evidence of a recent fatal bus accident still scattered along the mountainside. Beyond Beaumont, there is at least another hour of treacherous driving before reaching the last 12.5 miles to Jérémie, which are paved. OAS has said its work was hindered when it ran into occupied parcels of land whose ownership was unclear and residents who had not been paid to vacate. "The process of expropriation took much longer than anticipated," said Gilles Damais, chief of operations for the IADB in Haiti. "One person would receive payment one week, and the following week someone else would come and say, 'No, he's not the owner, another person owns this land.'" Behind schedule and over budget, OAS stopped work in July and filed a claim against the state for more than $40 million. When the Haitian government countered with a $2.7 million claim of its own, both sides dropped their demands in what one state official called "a gentleman's agreement." The OAS contract was formally terminated in December.
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News of the abandoned road project disheartened and angered residents of the underdeveloped Grand'Anse area, but nowhere was there greater desolation than in Jérémie, a quaint 'City of Poets' on the tip of Haiti's southern peninsula. Violent demonstrations rattled the normally quiet city for several days; tires were burned, cars destroyed, and at least one resident was killed. To mitigate the situation, the government promised that another company would take over work by mid-January, but with the project still dormant the people of Jérémie renewed their protests last week. Government officials have said that it will soon be announced that Dominican construction company Estrella will take over the project. Canadian International Development Agency head Julian Fantino has expressed impatience over the slow pace and inefficiency of development projects in Haiti. During visit to Haiti in November, Fantino told Reuters, without specifically mentioning the road project, "Canadians are not about to write a blank check without some assurances and regard for outcomes."
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Haiti's land registry problems can be traced back to its independence in 1804 and revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines' push for land reform. The transfer of a land title involves surveyors, notaries, and the central tax authority. To avoid the expense and bureaucracy, many property owners use informal methods to transfer land making it difficult, if not impossible, to determine a rightful owner. Title holders may deposit a copy with ONACA, the National Land Registry Office, but they are not obligated to do so. "The ONACA office is an unwanted child," said its director, Williams Allonce. Since its creation in 1984, the chronically under-funded office has only managed to register 5 percent of Haiti's more than 10,700 square miles.
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A second agency, the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Land Planning, is also working on a national registry, and the public works ministry has its own internal commission for land title and expropriation management. After the earthquake, state and foreign agencies were eager to start rebuilding, but identifying landowners in the midst of chaos was often impossible so relief agencies had to find legal workarounds. "Literally, no one had the answer for how you buy and sell property in Haiti," said Elizabeth Blake, a vice president at Habitat for Humanity International. Eighteen months after the earthquake, Blake initiated the Haiti Property Law Working Group. Representatives from foreign and state agencies volunteered to help demystify laws and procedures for purchasing, selling, and formalizing land rights. At the end of 2012, an official how-to guide was published in French, Haiti's national language, and English. "It's an extremely complex problem, and it could put the brakes on reconstruction if we don't find a way around it," said Alfred Piard, Haiti's director of public works.
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On a visit to Haiti in January, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said ownership and tenure security issues had to be addressed if reconstruction was to move forward. "What I'd like to see done is a renewed emphasis this year on the part of the government in clarifying the land laws ... and doing other things that will basically cut down on the delay and the cost in starting businesses and starting investments," Clinton told Reuters. Gary Jean, an engineer at the public works ministry, said the state had learned an expensive lesson with the OAS road fiasco. Next time, Jean said, all land must be surveyed, accounted for and expropriated before work begins.

Haiti Assumes CARICOM Chairmanship for First Time (1/1/2012)

Caribbean Journal
By Alexander Britell
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Haiti President Michel Martelly has begun his six-month term as Chairman of the Caribbean Community’s Conference of Heads of Government, vowing to “accelerate” Haiti’s inclusion in the regional integration movement. This marks the first time that Haiti, the largest country in the Caribbean Community by population, has assumed the CARICOM Chairmanship. Former President Rene Preval had been slated to chair CARICOM in 2010; due to Haiti’s earthquake in 2010, Jamaica assumed the Chairmanship instead. Martelly, who succeeds St Lucia Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony in the post, said Haiti would encourage a policy of sustainable development based on the promotion of a green economy. Since his election as Haiti’s President in 2011, Martelly has addressed CARICOM issues on several occasions that could give hints of his priorities for the next six months.
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At a press conference in Miami last month, Martelly said that while Haiti had been a longtime member of CAIRCOM, the country had not “been able enjoy the advantages of CARICOM.” “We don’t blame [CARICOM] for everything — some of the responsibilities are ours,” he said at the time. “We’re going to work on making sure we can benefit, and also going to refocus [CARICOM] on the Haiti matter.” In his address to the Heads of Government meeting in Castries last summer, Martelly also said he would push for French to have a place on the CARICOM agenda, including acceptance as one of the official languages of the regional body. More than 55 percent of CARICOM’s population speaks French or Creole. He also said that Haiti would be seeking to host the CARIFESTA festival in 2015.
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It’s likely that the issue of free movement of Haitian nationals within CARICOM will also be placed at the forefront of Haiti’s agenda. In his statement Tuesday, Haiti’s President said the achievements of CARICOM over the last four decades testified that “integration is not only a bulwark against challenges, but also a means by which we can achieve more great development in this dynamic and formidable global environment.” “It is in the unification of our potential that we will be able to better meet the adversities that threaten to overwhelm us,” said Martelly, who was in Gonaives to mark Haiti’s 209th anniversary of independence Tuesday. “I am aware that Haiti must now accelerate its insertion [in CARICOM],” he said. Martelly said he welcomed his colleagues to the upcoming 24th Intersessional Meeing of the Conference of Heads of State and Government in Haiti in February. Haiti has the Chairmanship until June 30, when Trinidad will assume the post.

Sri Lanka, Haiti Establish Diplomatic Ties (12/19/2012)

Sri Lanka and the Republic of Haiti have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to establish formal diplomatic relations between the two countries. Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr. Palitha Kohona on Friday (14) signed the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of Sri Lanka, while the Permanent Representative of Haiti to the UN Jean Wesley Cazeau, signed on behalf of Haiti. At the occasion, Dr. Kohona has noted that Sri Lanka and Haiti have shared common goals as developing nations, internationally and at home, since joining the United Nations. Dr. Kohona has elaborated on the achievements of both countries as active members of the Non-aligned Movement, and pointed out that at present Sri Lanka is a major troop contributor to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
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The Haitian representative has noted Sri Lanka's positive role in assisting countries such as Haiti and pointed out how the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries would enhance existing close relations and cooperation in the political, socio-economic and cultural fields for the mutual benefits of both countries. Both diplomats have expressed their expectation that the Memorandum of Understanding will significantly contribute to the consolidation of bilateral relations, particularly, the promotion of commerce, trade, cultural relations, and people to people friendship between the two countries, according to a government communiqué. They also have agreed to work alongside each other on international issues and crisis.

More than 350,000 Displaced Haitians Still Living in Camps

The number of internally displaced Haitians (IDPs) living in camps at the end of October 2012, almost three years after the January 2010 earthquake, is now estimated at 357,785 - down 77% from a peak of 1,536,477 registered in July 2010. The latest IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) report, which covers the period up to 31st October 2012, shows that since the previous quarter, many IDP sites have closed as a result of return programmes implemented by the Government of Haiti, IOM and other partners. Some 496 sites remain. The IOM Data Management Unit (DMU) which produces the DTM report, gathers, analyzes and disseminates critical information on camp populations, which in turn is used by the Government and humanitarian partners to plan and implement programmes. The report is the single largest source for overall data on populations in camps in Haiti.
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Data gathering is carried out by field teams that do direct camp assessments, registrations and interviews with the community, and in cases where site visits are not possible due to time limitations or security restrictions, IOM uses aerial imagery as a means to update population estimates. When aid efforts transitioned from emergency response to return and reconstruction, DTM activities adjusted accordingly with initiatives developed and put in place to gather data on the conditions within earthquake-affected neighbourhoods and the population within these areas. “The DTM is an essential tool that provides information for reconstruction actors working to close camps and provide sustainable solutions for the displaced population. It is essential that it remains active and up to date and that it is transitioned to be implemented by the government in 2013. IOM is looking to its donors to secure a minimum of US$ 800,000 in funding to maintain the DTM in 2013,” says Gregoire Goodstein, IOM Chief of Mission in Haiti.
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‘Results from the latest DTM show that camps are closing as a direct result of return programs led by the government and the humanitarian community. But the pace of closure is slowing down. It is important that we increase our momentum in providing solutions for displaced families who have now been living in camps for almost three years,” he notes. Meanwhile, cholera remains a considerable threat to the displaced population in the camps: Hurricane Sandy battered Haiti with devastating effects, immediately resulting in an increase in suspected cholera cases amongst camp populations. The latest DTM report along with other DTM tools and products are available on the DTM website: www.iomhaitidataportal.info.

International Organization for Migration:

US, Haiti begin tax collection project in cities (11/21/2012)

Associated Press
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Two Haitian cities and the development arm of the U.S. government have launched a tax collection system that they hope to replicate in municipalities throughout the impoverished Caribbean nation. Noel Bauer, the Haiti rural development and governance officer for U.S. Agency for International Development, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that a tax collection effort in the densely packed city of Carrefour generated significant revenue. The amount in taxes collected jumped 482 per cent from 2011 to 2012, or from $309,000 to $1.8 million. Organizers began by doing a census on built property in Carrefour, a seaside city whose population ranges from 400,000 to 800,000. Then they approached property owners about the importance of paying taxes. Payment was done on a voluntary basis, Bauer said. The project cost about $510,000. A smaller tax collection program was done before in St. Marc, a port city northwest of Port-au-Prince. The increase in built property revenue in St. Marc was 242 per cent from 2010 to 2011, or from $95,000 to $325,000, Bauer said. Haiti's rate of tax receipts as a share of its GDP is at 9 per cent, one of the lowest in the world, according to USAID. In the neighbouring Dominican Republic, it's about 12 per cent. People in Haiti have long been reluctant to pay taxes because there's little trust in a government that many see as corrupt and self-serving. At the same time, the cash-strapped government doesn't have the resources to provide basic services such as trash pickup, potable water or free education. Carrefour plans to use the new revenue to construct four footbridges and two schools, pave a stretch of a road, build two cisterns, dredge canals, and replace broken sewer grates, USAID said.

IOM and Its Partners Evacuate More than 1,200 Haitians

10/26/2012
IOM
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With torrential rains from Hurricane Sandy pounding Haiti since Tuesday evening, IOM, in support of the Haitian Government and Red Cross, has managed to evacuate 1,250 of the most vulnerable persons living in 12 camps identified as most at risk for flooding in the capital Port au Prince were evacuated to six shelters in various parts of the city. Early in the week, IOM teams were deployed to all camps targeted for evacuation to prepare the most vulnerable for the storm, including preparations for a potential evacuation. IOM Haiti conducted sensitization campaigns in 176 camps for the internally displaced before the storm. IOM was fully mobilized and present in vulnerable IDPs camps and evacuation centers, with a particular focus on provided for health and protection needs. During the evacuations, the IOM health team identified a total of 343 vulnerable health cases, including pregnant and lactating mothers, children under five, elderly persons and handicapped individuals. “This is a large scale operation that needs a rapid and coordinated effort from the international community and the local authorities. It is reassuring to know that we have moved more than one thousand very vulnerable individuals to safety. However, Haiti still has a total of 370,000 people living in precarious conditions in 541 camps scattered all over the country. The hurricane season is not finished and so the danger remains, despite well-coordinated emergency operations,” said Gregoire Goodstein, IOM Chief of Mission in Haiti.
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The evacuation operations were conducted in support of the Department for Civil Protection of the Haitian Government, the Haitian Red Cross, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the National Water and Sanitation Authority, with food assistance provided by the UN World Food Program. “This emergency is yet another reminder of the urgent need to further equip and build the capacity of Haitian institutions and partners engaged in disaster and risk reduction and to increase the number of readily available shelters that meet international standards. We applaud current efforts of the Haitian Government, which so far have provided relocation assistance to 44,000 persons, but more resources need to be allocated so that mitigation work can continue,” concluded Goodstein. On Thursday 25 October, heavy rains and strong winds continue to batter the cities of Jacmel (South West), Leogane (South), and Les Cayes (South East). The Government of Haiti is maintaining its red alert (highest level), as continuing rains are expected over the next day or two. IOM will remain ready to support the Haitian government and population should the situation deteriorate. IOM works closely with Haitian authorities and with vulnerable populations, to help them prepare for potential disasters such as Tropical Storm Isaac in August 2012, as well as Hurricane Sandy.

Clintons Land in Haiti to Showcase Industrial Park (10/22/2012)

Associated Press
By TRENTON DANIEL
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The Haitian government is hosting Hillary and Bill Clinton, a delegation of foreign investors and a crowd of celebrities Monday to showcase the marquee project of the U.S. aid effort since the 2010 earthquake. It's an industrial park, more than a hundred miles from the slowly recovering quake zone. The Clintons and their allies hope the $300 million facility will transform the northern part of this impoverished country by providing thousands of desperately needed jobs. Some Haitians have a sharply different view. They say the Caracol Industrial Park does little more than replicate failed efforts from the past and contend it will benefit outsiders more than Haitians. They also worry it will harm some of the few pieces of undamaged environment that still exist in Haiti. The star turnout for the opening — Sean Penn, who has run his own aid effort in Haiti, actor Ben Stiller and supermodel Petra Nemacova are among those expected to participate — speaks to an eagerness to show concrete results in a country where progress is hard to find amid stalled reconstruction projects.
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"It's really all-in on this project, and there's a high bar to deliver," said Laurent Dubois, a historian who teaches at Duke University and is author of "Haiti: The Aftershocks of History." ''It really needs to deliver in a big way so that people will think, yeah, this was the right thing to do." The stakes are high in large part because the Clintons have been so heavily involved. The Caracol project was in the works before the earthquake but it became a top priority for the Obama administration soon after the disaster. Hillary Clinton's chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, has made almost monthly visits to the site on Haiti's northern coast. Bill Clinton, the United Nations' special envoy for Haiti, also took an interest. He attended the project's groundbreaking a year ago with Haitian President Michel Martelly. The $124 million put in by the U.S. makes the park Washington's biggest single investment in the aftermath of the quake and it is certain to shape the legacy of the Clintons, who last visited Haiti together in 1975 on a wedding gift following their honeymoon in Mexico.
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Monday's trip is Hillary Clinton's third to Haiti since the earthquake, and there have been more than a dozen visits by her husband, who was co-chairman of an earthquake recovery panel before its mandate ended a year ago. The industrial park to be inaugurated by the Clintons was built on a 617-acre (250-hectare) site meant to "decentralize" Haiti's economy away from the crowded capital of Port-au-Prince and help develop the long-neglected countryside. The anchor tenant is South Korean apparel giant Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd, which begun production in May. It has agreed to create 20,000 permanent jobs within six years and also build 5,000 houses. Backers say the entire park has the potential to generate up to 65,000 jobs in all. A local paint manufacturing company, Peintures Caraibes SA, became the second tenant in July and will export paint made by Sherwin Williams along with its own paint; production begins next month. It's supposed to hire a total of 350 people. Details are still being worked on to bring in other tenants, but the project's architects hope its duty-free status and a 15-year tax holiday will lure more companies. Everyone agrees Haiti needs jobs. The country of some 10 million people is among the poorest in the world, and unemployment and underemployment hover around 60 percent. The money earned by those lucky to find work is spread thin. Despite the promises of up to 65,000 jobs at the site, and projections of possibly 133,000 more jobs through related cottage industries, the Caracol project has drawn heaps of skepticism. Critics say it's not much different from the factories to make baseballs for the U.S. sport that were built in the 1970s and 1980s under the regime of playboy dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. Those jobs prompted thousands of farmers to leave their fields for the capital, and agricultural areas succumbed to neglect. Shantytowns like Cite Soleil emerged to house the new workers. The factories got tax breaks but there was no income to offset Duvalier's alleged plundering of state coffers.
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Haiti was supposed to become the "Taiwan of the Caribbean" but instead it suffered through economic collapse brought on by political instability. "This is: Been there, done that," Alex Dupuy, a Haiti-born sociologist who teaches at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, said of the Caracol project. Because of the tenants' tax breaks, outside investors will have more to gain than Haitians, he said. "This is not a strategy that is meant to provide Haiti with any measure of sustainable development ... The only reason those industries come to Haiti is because the country has the lowest wages in the region," Dupuy said. Sae-A will pay employees Haiti's minimum wage, which is $5 a day. Workers will be eligible for bonuses based on performance. Hillary Clinton acknowledged the controversy associated with the project last month but argued that private enterprise strengthens economies. "You cannot have development in today's world without partnering with the private sector, and that has been our mantra, and we are now creating examples," Clinton said at her husband's Clinton Global Initiative in New York.
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"Are there pitfalls? Are there problems? Of course there are — there is with any kind of organized effort at development. But the fact is that including the private sector gives developing economies new opportunities." Backers of Caracol stress that it will bring tens of thousands of jobs to an area where subsistence farming has long been the only alternative to migration, and Jean Cherenfant, mayor of Cap-Haitien, a seaside city 13 miles (21 kilometers) from Caracol, is among them. He sees the facility as a boon for the region. "We don't have a lot of employers here, and we're talking about several hundred thousand jobs," Cherenfant said by telephone. "I will not go along with those people who are pessimistic."
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Proponents also say they are working to address potential problems. They say they have put money into multiple communities in the north in an effort to prevent Caracol from spawning shantytowns like the ones that sprang up in Port-au-Prince decades ago. The projects include new housing, road improvements and even help for farms. Critics point to other pitfalls, including a threat to the environment. Several studies show there is elkhorn and staghorn coral at the mouth of a bay where proposals call for a new port that would make shipping easier for Caracol's tenants. Haiti's government will ultimately decide where, and even if, a port is built. For now, the Manzanillo port in the neighboring Dominican Republic is being used, and it could remain the port if Haiti decides not to build one.

Ex US Official Sues Contractor in Haiti For Fees (10/15/12)

By BEN FOX
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The U.S. official who was in charge of relief efforts following Haiti's devastating Jan. 12 earthquake has accused a major contractor of shortchanging him for his assistance in securing more than $20 million in reconstruction deals after he left his post. Lewis Lucke, the former U.S. special coordinator for relief and reconstruction, says the Haiti Recovery Group Ltd., did not pay him enough for consulting services that included hooking the contractor up with powerful people and helping to navigate government bureaucracy. He's owed nearly $500,000, according to a lawsuit he filed last month in his home state of Texas, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. Lucke's lawsuit names the Haiti Recovery Group's two partners: Ashbritt, Inc., a contractor based in Pompano Beach, Florida, that specializes in the removal of debris left by natural disasters; and the GB Group, a conglomerate run by one of Haiti's wealthiest men, Gilbert Bigio.
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The Haiti Recovery Group filed a motion on Dec. 13 to transfer the case to federal court, but has not yet filed a response to the allegations. Ashbritt CEO Randal Perkins, who has been the partnership's spokesman, declined comment Friday in an e-mail to the AP. Lucke, a former U.S. ambassador to Swaziland who is now a consultant in Austin, Texas, said he could not discuss pending litigation and referred questions to his lawyers, who did not respond to interview requests. The dispute involves two of the most prominent players in the international response to the devastating earthquake. Lucke, a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Agency for International Development, oversaw the massive American aid effort as the Caribbean country reeled from a disaster that killed an estimated 230,000 people, destroyed more than 100,000 homes and paralyzed the Haitian government. "During that time he worked tirelessly day and night," his lawsuit says. "He met with Haitian officials, former United States Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the State Department, World Bank, and other participants in the widespread effort to help Haiti."
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Perkins, an outspoken businessman who scored $900 million in cleanup contracts after Hurricane Katrina, came to Haiti shortly after the quake to position his company for a role in the more than $10 billion reconstruction. He has been one of the few contractors to grant interviews with the news media, proudly displaying a sleek fitness center- and infirmary-equipped corporate compound in Port-au-Prince, and declaring that he had invested $25 million before scoring a single deal. Lucke, appointed to his temporary Haiti coordinator role by USAID, finished his work and returned to Texas. He says in his suit that Perkins then contacted him for assistance in understanding how contracts are allocated as well as for introductions to key officials. They signed a consulting contract on May 13 -- less than two months after the former ambassador left Haiti -- that set his pay at about $30,000 per month, with additional incentive payments if Haiti Recovery Group met specific contracting goals. He received two monthly payments but then Perkins sent him an e-mail abruptly terminating the agreement around the time that the Haiti Recovery Group received the Haitian government's first major debris-removal contract, worth an estimated $10 million, according to the suit. In the e-mail, which Lucke attached to the lawsuit, Perkins wrote Lucke on Aug. 27 to say that his contract was being immediately terminated following a discussion among the Haiti Recovery Group partners about their long-term strategy in the country. He held out the prospect of future work.
"We will continue to reach out to you for things that we may need, guidance and navigation of the process over the next 60 days," he wrote. "Over this time if we can figure out a way to work on a case by case success fee for projects that you might be instrumental in securing either thru the NGOs or other agencies we would be very interested in pursuing these."
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Lucke claims he "played an integral role" in securing two $10 million contracts -- the one from the Haitian government and a second from the World Bank -- along with a third with CHF International worth $366,000. He said he fulfilled his obligations under the contract by performing such services as "providing an understanding of the recovery efforts, making key introductions, and identifying sources of funding for HRG projects." The incentives under the contract provided he would be paid a bonus if the HRG earned contracts worth more than $6 million. Lucke says he is owed about $492,483 as well as attorney's fee for the breach of contract.

bad track record, Chemonics

Despite bad track record, Chemonics given huge USAID contracts in Haiti
Jacob Kushner | GlobalPost.com | Oct 06, 2012

NEW YORK — Two years ago, auditors revealed the Washington, DC, consulting firm Chemonics International and a partner company were employing only one-third as many Haitians as their contract required to clear rubble left by the January 2010 earthquake from city streets as part of the US government-funded “Cash for Work” program.

Chemonics even directed some of those workers to remove rubble from private lots adjacent to its Port-au-Prince headquarters instead.

Undeterred by the mishaps, just three months later the US awarded Chemonics $53 million to implement 141 new Haiti projects. Now, an internal audit reveals some of these projects are lagging behind schedule and others have failed entirely because the company didn't engage local communities in the work.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is in charge of allocating US aid in Haiti and around the world, responded to an audit last week of its Haiti contracts with Chemonics, the largest recipient of US aid contracts in the island nation and around the world. The audit, which concluded in February, examined 22 of the 141 projects, totaling $6.8 million. Among its findings:

Chemonics evaluated some of its projects based upon criteria that had absolutely nothing to do with the goals of those projects. In one case, Chemonics was charged with providing school supplies including chairs, desks and backpacks to two public schools, but it evaluated its work based on the number of children who returned to school. “The performance measure did not correlate to the activity,” according to the audit. Similarly, a project that was supposed to create a plan to improve roads in a Haitian town was evaluated by the “Number of reconstructed national governing institutions and systems that receive [US Government] assistance to incorporate principles that support democracy and government legitimacy” — whatever that means.

A Chemonics consultant who was supposed to help Haiti's national mapping agency replace geographical data lost during the earthquake hadn't finished the job when her contract ended in February. “The activity did not meet its objectives because Chemonics did not communicate effectively with [Haiti's mapping agency] or provide adequate support to the consultant,” according to the audit. “The Chemonics officials said they never asked agency staff members whether the consultant was meeting their needs and learned only at the activity’s end that [the agency] was not satisfied with her.” The head of the agency told auditors that the consultant's work was “insufficient and would have to be redone.”

Chemonics failed to conduct an “environmental mitigation and monitoring plan” before beginning a project to plant hundreds of thousands of medicinal jatropha plants near the city of Saint Marc. “Potentially adverse environmental impacts can occur if proper mitigation and monitoring procedures are not put into place before implementing an activity and monitoring it,” the audit warned.

Chemonics was awarded “urban beautification” contracts to build benches and spruce up public spaces near the new $224 million Carocol industrial park outside Haiti's northern city of Cap Haitien. But instead of hiring Haitians from the local communities, Chemonics brought in workers all the way from Port-au-Prince in the south of the country. “As a result, residents saw jobs in their neighborhood being done by outsiders, and without an understanding of the activities, they did not see how anyone local benefited,” the audit stated. It concluded two of these beautification projects failed altogether because Chemonics did not involve local residents in the process.

Chemonics failed to set timelines or estimated dates of completion for some work being done by subcontractors, causing some projects to run behind schedule. In September 2011, USAID awarded Chemonics a $1.9 million contract to build a temporary space for Haiti's parliament, which lost its building in the earthquake. But no timelines were set for steps in the process – such as installing “utilities.”

In March, GlobalPost witnessed Haitian subcontractors installing electrical wires in that building — four months after USAID officially “inaugurated” the structure, announcing it complete. A GlobalPost investigation found the building remained unused by Haiti's parliament months after the inauguration because USAID only asked Chemonics to construct the frame of the building — leaving the offices void of furniture and the chambers hall empty and unusable. Haiti’s government later drew at least $775,000 from the public treasury to finish the job.

Last week's audit is likely to fuel scrutiny of USAID deals with companies like Chemonics, both in the United States and in the countries where those deals take place.

It isn't the first time USAID has reacted to mistakes by Chemonics by sending even more contracts its way. A 2005 audit found the company's $153 million program to improve agriculture in Afghanistan had missed an important objective that resulted in the “limited” success of the project. Nonetheless, one year later, USAID awarded Chemonics a new $102 million contract for similar work in Afghanistan. A later investigation found even that project was flawed, running so far behind schedule that Afghan farmers on 10,000 hectares of land were unable to plant their crops one summer.

Critics of USAID spending say the mistakes Chemonics made in Haiti and Afghanistan are emblematic of those that occur frequently across the development aid world as aid contracts increasingly shift away from NGOs to for-profit companies. Foreign Policy reported in July that in 2011, 27 percent of USAID funds worldwide went to American companies like Chemonics.

“These companies operate for profit. They're not your mom and pop's NGO or aid group,” said Jake Johnston, who analyses US aid to Haiti for CEPR. “They have high overheads, they take off money off the top, they pay high salaries for their staff.”

Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in 2009 that USAID has “turned into more of a contracting agency than an operational agency with the ability to deliver.”

The result is that many Haitian organizations and businesses are left hoping that some of the funding trickles down to them. They are often disappointed.

The president of Haiti's National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Reginald Boulos, said the audit's findings are “not surprising” to Haitian businesspeople who've witnessed billions of dollars in aid bypass Haitian companies.

“In the 90s, someone in Washington came up with the idea of subcontracting the work of USAID and local organizations to US firms,” Boulos said. The result has been a “huge flow of NGOs that rushed to Haiti after the earthquake” which “created a meltdown of the economy, with probably no growth this year and again nothing to show for the billions of dollars spent after the earthquake.”

In May, a GlobalPost investigation revealed that not a single dollar of the original $1.1 billion in humanitarian assistance the agency allocated in Haiti in fiscal year 2010 went directly to Haitian organizations or businesses. An analysis by the CEPR found that 70 percent of the $450 million awarded through reconstruction contracts has gone to Beltway companies like Chemonics, and only 1.3 percent has gone directly to Haitian companies.

But now, USAID is trying to change that.

Last month, USAID administrator Rajiv Shah announced the agency plans to send 30 percent of Haiti aid directly to local companies and organizations by 2015, as part of USAID's Forward program that intends to reach that mark worldwide. Many who work in the humanitarian world have applauded the push to “contract local.” But as Johnston points out, the 30 percent local contracting goal seems highly optimistic for a place like Haiti, where currently only 1.3 percent of aid contracts go to local companies. And a Government Accountability Office report last month found USAID doesn't currently have a mechanism to even track its progress toward that goal.

“There are a lot of people at USAID who do want to change the system, but it's so ingrained in how they operate that they don't have the ability to make the switch,” Johnston said. “The for-profit development sector has really taken over this industry in the last decade.”

And they're fighting to keep it that way. Last year, Chemonics joined 50 other American development contractors to form a lobbying group to fight the sort of reforms proposed in USAID's Forward initiative. The companies argue that the status quo is preferable to giving contracts directly to smaller companies within host countries because they are harder to hold accountable and often have no experience handling large-dollar contracts.

Members of the US lobbying group, the Coalition of International Development Companies, have much at stake in that argument. Members received 60 percent of all post-earthquake USAID contracts in Haiti, according to CEPR. The group has already spent $150,000 in the first half of 2012 lobbying Congress to reject the proposed USAID reform that would send more money the way of local organizations and businesses.

Chemonics declined requests for an interview. USAID did not respond to questions about its contracts with Chemonics in Haiti.

Jean Pharés Jérôme contributed to this report from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

USAID/Haiti Work Not on Track (AP - 10/2/2012)

By MARTHA MENDOZA
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A newly released audit says the largest U.S. contractor working to stabilize Haiti after the 2010 earthquake is "not on track" to complete its assignments on schedule, has a weak monitoring system and is not adequately involving community members. Washington D.C.-based Chemonics won a $53 million, 18-month contract from USAID in 2011 to help Haiti strengthen its economy and public institutions. USAID's Office of Inspector General released a report Monday that found Chemonics had a series of slips, including using arbitrary ways of evaluating its work, failing to hire local workers, and going ahead with potentially damaging environmental projects before they were approved. "This report touches on a lot of issues we've seen with the overall reconstruction effort," said Jake Johnston, a researcher at the Washington D.C.-based Center for Economic and Policy Research who studies U.S. spending in Haiti. "There's a lack of transparency and the work is often poorly planned and poorly executed." Chemonics did not have an immediate comment, but a spokeswoman said it was preparing a response. USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives, which manages the Chemonics contracts, said in a written response to the audit that it agrees with all of the recommendations and that changes are under way to resolve the issues.
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"It should be noted that it is challenging to attribute direct results in complex and fluid stabilization environments, and it is often the absence of destabilizing events that demonstrates stability in these historically volatile areas," USAID directors Robert Jenkins and Steve Olive said in a joint response. This is the second time Chemonics work in Haiti has been found lacking. In 2010, USAID auditors found the firm failed to hire thousands of Haitians as planned under a cash-for-work program, spending the funds on equipment and materials. Also in 2010, Chemonics was one of five groups criticized for wasting aid in Afghanistan on foreign workers' high salaries, security and living arrangements. Chemonics, which has worked in 150 countries, counts USAID as its largest client. In Haiti, Chemonics was awarded a $39.5 million contract after the earthquake for the first phase of reconstruction, involving 301 different small projects including setting up temporary space for parliament and holding Haiti's first-ever presidential debates. Its second $53 million contract, aimed at a second phase of reconstruction, had more than 140 different projects aimed at improving the social and economic situation in Haiti by hosting job fairs, printing training guides to prevent violence against women, establishing a daily radio news program and other projects. Auditors said the second phase lacks accountability on many levels.
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For example, the U.S. is helping construct a major, $224 million industrial park which is projected to employ more than 20,000 people in a small, impoverished northern community. Chemonics set out to beautify nearby towns to project "a positive image of what role the nearby Caracol industrial park and other upcoming economic investments will play in citizens' lives." It didn't work. The plan was to spruce up the towns by installing benches, upgrading landscaping, and doing some minor masonry work. Auditors found Chemonics purchased and planted some seedlings for the town center, but they died from lack of care, and residents said they didn't see how the activity led to the beautification of the area nor did they associate it with the industrial park. As a contractor, Chemonics is also responsible for setting up its own system of evaluation. The auditors found some of the ways the firm was measuring accomplishments simply didn't make sense. For example, Chemonics conducted an engineering study to improve one town's roads, and then measured their accomplishment by trying to count how many rebuilt institutions and structures "incorporate principles that support democracy and government legitimacy." At times the work has also seemed backward. For example, an environmental review required in advance of farming projects was instead signed off on three months after Chemonics had 700,000 flowering tropical jatropha seedlings planted as part of a temporary work program.

Haiti's Two Million Dollar Ghost Town (10/2/2012)

Haiti Grassroots Watch
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The smells and scenes that greet a visitor to this eerily empty collection of over 60 brightly painted homes and buildings verge on the obscene. Some of the houses are filled with piles of desiccated human excrement, their recently built living rooms and kitchens turned into public latrines. A few appear occupied by squatters. Paint is chipping. Doors have been torn from hinges, toilets and sinks ripped out. This was one of the first Haiti reconstruction projects to receive approval, funding – over two million dollars – and the enthusiastic backing of former President Bill Clinton. Just months after the devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake killed over 200,000 people and drove another 1.3 million into squalid camps, the Building Back Better Communities (BBBC) project got the green light from the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC), headed by Clinton and then-Haitian Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive.
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The idea was to “expose best practices for housing reconstruction by encouraging innovative ideas” with a “Housing Exposition” and to build an “Exemplar Community”, an IHRC document explains. The Clinton Foundation gave 500,000 dollars; the Inter-American Development Bank gave another 1.2 million dollars; the Deutsche Bank Foundation, the British government and even the Haitian government all contributed, according to officials involved with the project. But 14 months after Clinton himself opened the Expo on this former farmland just outside the capital, most of the model homes sit empty. There are more goats than humans at the two-hectare site. Well over a dozen have been severely vandalised. All of them were built by Haitian and foreign firms which spent an average of 25,000 dollars each – over 1.5 million dollars altogether – to compete for contracts and in the hopes their model would be chosen for the Exemplar Community of 150 homes that was to be part of the project. “All these houses had a security guard,” a young woman sleepily told visitors recently as she stood in the doorway of a little yellow house, built by Colorado-based RCI Systems and priced at 10,000 dollars. A disheveled mattress lay on the floor behind her. “A lot of the guards left because they hadn’t been paid,” she said.
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A four-month investigation by Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW) confirmed that apart from admiration last July, the Expo and Exemplar Community project have been ignored, as have the architects, the construction firms, and the site and the houses themselves. The Expo was dreamed up a few months after the earthquake during a meeting at Clinton’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to architect and former Haitian government official Leslie Voltaire, one of its originators. The government would hold a competition and forum where local and foreign contractors could propose housing solutions. At the end, the houses would be handed over to homeless families, who would have to keep them clean so that interested individuals, humanitarian agencies or private builders could visit at any time. “It was a kind of win-win,” said Voltaire in an exclusive interview with Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW). “The builder makes a gift, but also has an example that can be seen by NGOs.” The architecture firm John McAslan and Partners of London was brought in, and soon the plan expanded to include the “Exemplar Community” – a village of 150 homes built with an “Expo” model house to be chosen by a jury, the architecture and planning schools at Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) came on board to work on the Exemplar Community and recommend appropriate environmental, social and economic measures.
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The Deutschebank Foundation committed 50,000 dollars, and on Aug. 17, 2010, the IHRC gave the green light, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said it would prepare the site: about two hectares of very low floodplain land that had to be filled in with gravel. “The zone is really low, so you have to fill in, at least one metre. And each cubic metre costs about, I think now it’s 25 U.S. dollars,” IDB urban designer Arcindo Santos explained. None of the estimated 10 million cubic metres of earthquake rubble was used, the planner added, because “earthquake material wasn’t ready or available”. Instead, it took about 20,000 truckloads of gravel and fill dug from riverbeds and hillsides. Voltaire decided to run for president soon after the project got started, so it was handed to the ministry of tourism and its minister, Patrick Delatour. The competition drew over 500 applications. “In my opinion, the Expo was a success because we completed our mission, meaning, we organised a conference on housing and prototypes were constructed,” the former minister told HGW. The architectural firm pulled in to oversee the competition John McAslan and Partners of London, agreed. “The competition ranked as among the most successful in the world,” McAslan’s Nick Rutherford said in a telephone interview, because the contest generated what he called “affordable and sustainable houses”.
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But the 60 or so models eventually chosen have an average price tag of 21,000 dollars and range up to 69,000 dollars – steep prices for humanitarian organisations, and even more steep for the population, most of whom live on less than two dollars a day. And many of houses are made with imported materials. “Success” or not, the exposition did not take place in November 2010 as planned. Instead, the government decided to hold a housing conference in January 2011, and planned the Expo for later in the year. “That was a kind of lollipop they gave contractors to keep them interested,” Voltaire admitted. “They were saying, ‘Nothing is happening!’ etc., so they (the government) did a conference.” “It was the biggest joke I’ve ever seen,” deplored John Sorge of Innovative Composites International (ICI), a firm with offices in both the U.S. and Canada. “It was a hoodwink to promote the government… the whole Expo was a farce.” And the Exemplar Community? Harvard and MIT teams made various visits to Haiti, and a Haitian delegation flew north for a retreat on Martha’s Vineyard Island, a swank vacation spot favoured by President Barack Obama. The effort produced an interesting bilingual report – but no community. The ball was dropped. The money needed wasn’t raised.
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Just months after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake killed over 200,000 Haitians and drove another 1.3 million into squalid camps, the Building Back Better Communities (BBBC) project got the green light from the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC), headed by former U.S. president Bill Clinton and then-Haitian prime minister Jean Max Bellerive. The project consisted of an exposition of some 60 model homes for post-earthquake reconstruction, and the building of an “Exemplar Community” for 150 families, planned for former farmland outside the capital Port-au-Prince.
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Altogether, the BBBC cost over two million dollars in “reconstruction” funding. Most went for the Expo that was barely visited and whose models homes today sit empty, as well as for the Exemplar Community – a community that was never built. Another two million was spent by the architectural and construction firms hoping to win valuable housing contracts with the government and NGOs, and also betting their house would be chosen for the Exemplar Community. Today, a long list of BBBC organisers – including Arcindo Santos of the Inter-American Development Bank, which spent 1.2 million preparing the “expo” site, and former tourism minister Patrick Delatour who coordinated the exposition – call the project “significant”, “a good idea” and “a success”.
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And for each of them, it was. Each person and agency accomplished his or her piece of the project, attending conferences, writing reports, inaugurating events. And most of them, and their employees, got paid. But nobody carried the projects forward, nor does anyone seem to be bothered with them today. Rather than housing earthquake victim families as the government had promised, 14 months later, the 67 model homes are empty. In his interview with Haiti Grassroots Watch (HGW), even one of the project’s originators – architect and former Haitian government official Leslie Voltaire – admitted the Expo was “a farce”. While calling the Harvard/MIT report produced for the Exemplar Community an “excellent” document, he pointed out that perhaps the plan – his plan – was flawed from the beginning. “Who was going to buy those houses?” he mused. “The Red Cross has money to do housing. World Vision has money to do housing. USAID has money to do housing. Maybe European Union, etc.? They are the ones who should have come to the Expo… but the ones who have the money, where are they? They have their own housing (model) in their heads already.” Today, Voltaire noted, nobody seems to be in charge. Not the state housing agency, not the housing reconstruction office, not the Ministry of Tourism. “Clinton and (Haitian President Michel) Martelly are implicated in this thing,” he said. “They inaugurated it. They are the ones who should take it in hand. Martelly can’t just dump it like that. And Clinton can’t just dump it like that. And they need to write to the firms who put the prototypes there.” But Voltaire is implicated also, according to a ministry of tourism document. As of March 2011, he was put in charge of “the management and follow-up of the Exemplar Community”. HGW did its own follow up, getting in touch with seven of the firms, based in Haiti and the United States. Only one was building houses, and it had obtained that contract before the Expo started. All were dismayed with how the project turned out. “It was a waste of money with no respect for the builders,” Gabriel Rosenberg of GR Construction, a Haitian firm, said in a telephone interview. “We invested about 25,000 dollars. We expected to sell those houses.”
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Jim Dooley of New Hampshire, U.S., said he got involved because he “wanted to help”. He and his partners formed the “Ti Kaye” (“Little House”) consortium and invested about 68,000 dollars, he told HGW. “At this point we have not sold one building,” Dooley said. “We were told that the model would eventually become a protective shelter and home for a caring and needy family,” he added. “We can only hope that that is the future for this little building. We certainly designed it and built it with that foremost in mind.” Today the Ti Kaye is locked up tight, and empty, while an estimated 369,000 victims still live in squalid camps. Haitian entrepreneur Winifred Jean Galvan said she and her Mexican partners at Pamacon S.A. spent 27,000 dollars, part of that on customs fees. “We paid something like 30 percent,” she said, even though the 20,000-dollar house was a gift to the government. Galvan and Pamacon got involved because they wanted to “to provide people with a decent house” and “to make a living doing that”, she said. Today the little orange home sits empty. The paint is peeling and one wall is cracked. “They took our money, they took our houses… with no respect for us,” the 58-year-old businesswoman said. “We thought they would call, at least to say if they chose our house or not (for the Exemplar Community). Not even a thank you. Not a goodbye. Nothing.”
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HGW asked the Haitian government what was planned for the Expo houses. “We’re going to sell some and rent some,” Clement Belizaire of the state’s housing reconstruction office told HGW recently. “Some of them will have state services in them. All of those houses will be used.” But today, just one is occupied by a state agency. The model built by Haitian firm SECOSA now houses a police station.
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*Note: Most interviews for this article were conducted in early 2012. Haiti Grassroots Watch is a partnership of AlterPresse, the Society of the Animation of Social Communication (SAKS), the Network of Women Community Radio Broadcasters (REFRAKA), community radio stations from the Association of Haitian Community Media and students from the Journalism Laboratory at the State University of Haiti.

Haiti's Government Creates Commission on Price Stabilization

9/15/2012
Caribbean Journal
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Haiti’s government has created a commission on price stabilization, the office of Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe announced Friday. The commission will be comprised of representatives of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, the Council of Economic and Social Development and the National Coordination on Food Security. The new body’s mandate will be to propose measures to stabilize commodity prices considered “sensitive” because of their importance to Haiti’s food basket. In a statement, Haiti’s government said it was committed to the fight against high prices through “concrete, rapid, appropriate and effective” measures. It said the committee would work with private sector and farming stakeholders to adopt measures that would “contribute to price stability.

Clinton/Bush Haiti Fund Invests in Haiti's Insurance Sector

9/12/2012
By Meg Galloway Pearce
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Summary: The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund Joins the Inter-American Development Bank and MEDA/SARONA Asset Management in Investing in Haiti's Insurance Sector The Alternative Insurance Company makes insurance available to Haiti's mass market
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Today, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Sarona Asset Management and the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) joined the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in making investments in the Alternative Insurance Company (AIC). The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Sarona/MEDA are each investing $1 million in equity in the Haitian multiline insurance company. AIC has products fit to cover a range of customers, from commercial enterprises to low-income individuals. The investments, alongside a $2 million subordinated loan from the IDB that was announced in April 2012, will provide AIC with capital to strengthen its portfolio of insurance products and better prepare the Haitian population for unforeseen circumstances. “A robust insurance sector is an important precondition to sustainable reconstruction and mitigation of future risk in Haiti, a disaster-prone country,” Clinton Bush Haiti Fund CEO Gary Edson said. “Insurance access improves initial disaster response, gets individuals and businesses back on their feet faster, and reassures investors about the security of their investments. By strengthening AIC’s capital base, we are helping AIC offer this and, in turn, act as a beacon for what insurance in Haiti can be.” The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund’s investment was catalytic in bringing other partners to the project, including the IDB. The IDB’s loan marks the organization’s first-ever partnership with a private sector company. “We are encouraged that more Haitians are discovering insurance as an instrument of well-being,” AIC´s CEO Olivier Barrau said. “Most importantly, we are all learning that a prevention culture makes us stronger in an environment highly exposed to risk. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Sarona/MEDA partnerships will help us fulfill our promise of protection to those who most need it,” said Barrau.
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While 2010 was critically challenging for Haiti's insurance industry, AIC honored all of its claims after the January 12th earthquake. For the last two years the company has focused on growing its business and creating innovative new offerings. The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund and Sarona/MEDA investments will help promote this growth. AIC products range from commercial, auto, life, and health insurance to lower-cost insurance products, known as micro-insurance, targeted toward middle- and low-income clients. One micro-insurance product is AIC’s funeral insurance, Protecta, which provides families with a safety net, preventing the shock of a death in the family from driving Haitians deeper into poverty. An AIC survey shows that a funeral costs on average 11 times the monthly income of a low-income family. Without insurance, families must cover this expense by borrowing money or selling the few assets they have. These partnerships aim to assist AIC in the development of their micro-insurance products and mobile payment solutions. “We are pleased to partner with AIC for the betterment of the poor in Haiti,” said Julie Redfern, Vice President of Financial Services at MEDA. Sarona Asset Management is the investment arm of MEDA. “Philosophically, we are well-aligned with shared values, solid business experience and a commitment to bottom-of-the-pyramid clientele.” Sarona Asset Management’s COO, Serge LeVert-Chiasson, explained that its decision to support the investment made by MEDA in AIC was driven by the quality of its senior management team, its leadership position within the insurance industry in the country and its focus on developing micro-insurance products for the working poor in Haiti.
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About Alternative Insurance Company: Alternative Insurance Company (AIC) is a Haitian multiline insurance company founded in 2001 to provide insurance products to all segments of the population. AIC offers a variety of insurance products targeted to meet the needs of all Haitians. Business lines include Auto, Commercial, Homeowners, Life, Group health, Protecta and Micro-insurance products, supported by a strong distribution network and an excellent record of governance and responsiveness to its clients.
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MEDA is an international NGO founded in 1953 that provides technical expertise and project management in the areas of financial services and market linkages. More specifically its work focuses on subsector and value chain analysis, risk management, product development, health systems, technology solutions and financial institution capacity development. MEDA’s expertise cuts across sectors, working with vulnerable and underserved populations like youth, low-income women, and rural populations.
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Sarona Asset Management is a private equity firm based in Waterloo, ON, and was spun out of MEDA in 2011. It is a co-founder and/or manager of a number of impact investment funds, including the Sarona and MicroVest groups of funds. Together, these funds have over $180 million in assets under management in emerging and developing country markets around the world.

Rubble from Haitian Palace to Help Rebuild Cite Soleil

9/10/2012
By the Caribbean Journal staff
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Haiti’s damaged national palace was one of the lasting images of the country’s 2010 earthquake. But while Haiti has already begun the demolition process on the palace, its dome will live on in a bid to help rebuild the area of Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince. Between 150 and 200 cubic metres of rubble from the dome of the National Palace to be transported to the area of Cite Soleil, according to Sean Penn’s J/P HRO charity, which is working with the government on the project under the technical supervision of the Institute for the Preservation of the National Heritage. That rubble will be used to create the foundation for future improved and future roads, homes and schools. “In life, every new day is built on yesterday,” said Father Rick Frechette, who has been working on relief efforts in Haiti and is based in Cite Soleil. “This rubble of a century’s worth of national history and heritage will become the foundation for houses, schools and cultural theatre of the people of Cite Soleil. It’s a great moment — standing on yesterday’s highest domes in order to reach for the best tomorrow.” J/P, which has demolished more than 1,400 damaged houses and removed more than 300,000 cubic metres of rubble in Haiti since 2010, said its fundraising efforts will mean that Haiti’s government will incur a “minimum cost” on the project. Approximately 98 percent of the staff on the demolition project is Haitian, J/P said. “This is yet another step forward for the government of Haiti made possible by its people,” said Penn, who was named Haiti’s Ambassador-at-large by President Michel Martelly at the beginning of 2012. “All of us at J/P HRO are honoured ot be of service in this mission, both in its practical and symbolic nature.” In a statement, Haiti President Michel Martelly said the work would “lay the symbolic groundwork for a new beginning for Cite Soleil.” Haiti officially launched the demolition process on the palace in late August. Work began Sept. 6. The debris removal project will take approximately three months, according to J/P. “With this mission, a symbol of power will now serve as the foundation for these extraordinary people to rebuild upon,” Penn said.

Sean Penn's Charity Begins Demolition of Haitian Palace (9/7/12)

Associated Press
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The aid group led by Hollywood star Sean Penn has begun demolishing the National Palace that was destroyed in Haiti's powerful 2010 earthquake. The Haitian government invited reporters Friday to see Penn's humanitarian organization, J/P HRO, begin the three-month effort of tearing down the presidential home so it can be rebuilt from scratch. The earthquake damaged hundreds of buildings in the capital of Port-au-Prince and in other cities to the south. The National Palace was among them, and it came to symbolize the scale of devastation brought by the disaster along with government inertia. Penn's group volunteered to demolish the National Palace and the dollar amount hasn't been released. The government of President Michel Martelly says it's still trying to figure out who will rebuild the National Palace.

Haiti Park Standoff Highlights Conflict Over Land (8/30/2012)

Associated Press
By TRENTON DANIEL
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LA VISITE NATIONAL PARK, Haiti— The police officers and other officials showed up in the mountain clearing on a cool morning armed with shotguns, pistols, sledgehammers and orders for hundreds of squatters to vacate the homes and farms they had carved out of one of Haiti's few national parks. The people living there had known they could be removed at any time because they were on a rare piece of protected woodland in one of the most deforested countries on earth. But they were resolved to put up a fight. In a violent clash that lasted several hours, four squatters were shot to death. Exactly what happened on July 23 is still in dispute, but the episode points to the difficulties facing President Michel Martelly as he tries In this picture taken Aug. 16, 2012, a resident shows empty tear gas canisters recovered after a confrontation with Haitian police in La Visite National Park, Haiti, a rare piece of protected woodland in one of the most deforested countries on earth. A police operation to clear out farmers living for generations in the national park is now under investigation after four squatters were shot to death in the attempted eviction. ((AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)) to bring law and order to a chaotic country still recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake and successive hurricanes and storms.
Martelly, who took office in May 2011, has made protecting the country's long-neglected natural environment one of his top four priorities, along with strengthening education, reforming the justice system and improving energy infrastructure.
His government has banned plastic bags and Styrofoam containers, which litter the landscape and clog storm channels. It has backed projects improving sanitation and water quality and has called for a restored military that would patrol forests and help outnumbered rangers prevent further deforestation.
But the administration has quickly learned that
applying such high-minded goals to Haiti's sprawling problems looks easier on paper. His government cleared thousands of people from squalid displaced-person camps set up in public parks and plazas, in some cases through evictions, sparking widespread criticism of his supposedly heavy-handed tactics. Adding to the discontent was the lack of any government plan for housing the hundreds of thousands of people still left homeless from the quake. In the case of La Visite National Park, officials
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In this picture taken Aug. 16, 2012, a farmer stops to talk with fellow residents on a forest road in La Visite National Park, Haiti, a rare piece of protected woodland in one of the most deforested countries on earth. A police operation to clear out farmers living for generations in the national park is now under investigation after four squatters were shot to death in the attempted eviction. had nowhere to settle the squatters they were trying to evict. The government has won small victories: It's allowed people to resume using the few playgrounds and parks in the capital, giving the city back some of its pre-quake normalcy. But a staggering amount of work remains to be done. "It's going to be very hard for the government to strike a balance," said Yves Colon, a Haiti-born journalism professor at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. "President Martelly is trying to make these changes but of course they aren't enough, because there's so much misery out there, and not everyone will be happy." The wear-and-tear from squatters is evident in La Visite, where the cutting of pine trees is plainly. In this picture taken Aug. 16, 2012, Olivier Alfred 6, sits on his father's lap outside their home in La Visite National Park, Haiti, a rare piece of protected woodland in one of the most deforested countries on earth. A police operation to clear out farmers living for generations in the national park is now under investigation after four squatters were shot to death in the attempted eviction.It's considered a critical wildlife habitat and water source for the capital of Port-au-Prince, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) to the northwest. It's also home to threatened bird species such as the Hispaniolan trogon and golden swallow. The park dwellers survive by growing their own fruits and vegetables and raising livestock, all activities that require clearing trees. Philippe Leon, an architect and board member of the Seguin Foundation environmental group, likens the park to a man who's quickly going bald. "It's a national and international treasure that's being destroyed," he said. The need to save Haiti's forests is obvious to anyone who flies over the country and sees the almost completely denuded landscape. In this picture taken Aug. 16, 2012, resident Jean Louis St. Fort stands with her uncle in front of a home whose stone walls were punched out with hammers by Haitian police, in La Visite National Park, Haiti, a rare piece of protected woodland in one of the most deforested countries on earth. A police operation to clear out farmers living for generations in the national park is now under investigation after four squatters were shot to death in the attempted eviction.
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In 1925, Haiti had 60 percent of its original forest cover. Today, it has about 2 percent, most of it lost because people cut down trees to make charcoal, the principal source of cooking fuel. Without trees to stabilize the soil, even modest storms trigger deadly floods and mudslides. Tropical Storm Isaac killed at least 24 people in Haiti when they were swept away by floodwaters, electrocuted or crushed by falling trees or walls. The forest that makes up La Visite once sprawled over nearly 15,000 acres (6,000 hectares) but is now only about one-third of that size because of deforestation and erosion. It was among three sites designated for protection under former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier in 1983. In this picture taken Aug. 16, 2012, a small creek runs through La Visite National Park, Haiti, a rare piece of protected woodland in one of the most deforested countries on earth. A police operation to clear out farmers living for generations in the national park is now under investigation after four squatters were shot to death in the attempted eviction. who had worked in the park never left despite the designation, and their descendants have been there ever since. Nonetheless, the Seguin Foundation, and other groups eager to protect the park, don't defend the raid, even though they think the squatters should leave. "It was an ill-conceived, ill-prepared ... mission," said Leon, whose group has long urged the government to move the squatters out of the park. "They went in like amateurs and they got met by a population that was angry."
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Environment Minister Jean-Vilmond Hilaire conceded in an interview that the raid had failed and that the government should have worked with the 1,500 people in the park to come up with a relocation plan. "The state should take its social responsibility toward these people but it also needs to take responsibility for the environment," Hilaire said. The squatters said the officers ordered them to leave and immediately used sledgehammers to smash the stone walls of their houses. The officers also fired rounds of tear gas, witnesses said, prompting squatters to lob the heavy stones that mark trails through the tall pines. Police responded with bullets, the witnesses said. "Look," squatter Jean Daus said as he unzipped a grimy backpack and poured the contents onto his front porch. "Here are the bullets and tear gas canisters." While Alfred and other witnesses say the police were the aggressors, no one has been arrested and officials say the incident is still under investigation. Antoine Jean Frehard, a magistrate in the nearest city of Jacmel, said it remained unclear who fired the shots that killed the four men. Following the shootings, the police left, and the squatters stayed. But Hilaire, who took office after the raid, said the government remains committed to clearing the forest and needs to set a timeline for when it will happen.
"It's not just giving people money and telling them to move," he said. "I don't see it like that. The state needs to identify where it's going to put these people before it asks them to leave."
Leon said he hopes the government won't give up trying to protect the park, calling it a matter of national security for about 4 million people who depend on its water and trees for flood protection.
"The government will have to try to find a solution," he said, "and it shouldn't cost any lives." The farmers themselves don't know where or when they'll be forced out, but many say they're open to moving if the government provides housing and negotiates more openly. "The authorities have to sit down with us," said 31-year-old Wilson Pierre, a third-generation farmer in the park. "And it must be better than what they offered us earlier."

Tropical Storm Isaac Highlights Urgent Need to Empty Camps

8/28/2012
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IOM's response to Tropical Storm Isaac, which hit Haiti this weekend, saw a rapid and coordinated reaction, in which the most vulnerable people in camps were evacuated well before the storm struck the country. Thousands of people were taken to safety by Haitian Civil Protection (DPC) and IOM before and during the storm. People were returned from evacuation shelters to camps as soon as the storm passed over and provided with shelter materials, hygiene kits and other aid where necessary. The storm highlighted the urgent need to close the 575 camps remaining since the 2010 earthquake and provide adequate shelter for 390,000 people still living under tarps and in tents. "The camps got lucky this time and dodged the bullet," said IOM Haiti Chief of Mission Luca Dall'Oglio. "But they will not always be so lucky and the international community needs to act now to close all the camps by providing rental subsidies and housing solutions for those living there. The social and financial costs of evacuating a camp population every time there is a major storm can far outstrip the cost of providing housing rental solutions."
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The well-coordinated response to the first major storm of the hurricane season signalled a new level of preparedness by the authorities. It followed months of preparatory work by Haiti and its international partners to build resilience into the civil protection system. In many cases, it was well-trained camp vigilance committees who ensured that the evacuation of vulnerable people, distribution of aid and the returns went smoothly. Storms have caused thousands of deaths in Haiti in the past and strike with predictable ferocity. The capital Port-au-Prince was saved this time when Isaac turned out to sea and away from the city. Even so, eight people tragically died, according to the authorities. The huge depression brought heavy rain and winds in excess of 65 mph that destroyed thousands of tents and shelters in the camps.
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IOM teams assessed the damage to camps and responded to urgent health and protection needs immediately. By yesterday (27/8) they had helped 5,210 households. The Emergency Shelter and the Camp Coordination Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster coordinated the assessment and response in the camps. The UN and humanitarian agencies on the ground worked together to meet the most immediate needs of the affected population. A vast sensitization campaign using media, loudspeakers, posters, SMS messaging and an emergency call centre also targeted the population at risk. It warned camp residents of the approaching storm and highlighted the location of emergency centres and pre-positioned emergency supplies. "The rapid response was a credit to the hard work of preparedness and coordination which the State, through the DPC and humanitarian actors, have been engaged in," said Dall'Oglio. "While civil protection and preparedness will continue to be a high priority for Haiti for the foreseeable future, we will fall down on the job as humanitarians, if we do not urgently find the necessary resources to close these camps quickly," he added.
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IOM and other humanitarian actors have already helped 18,807 families to leave the camps by providing rental subsidies for 12 months. The program has closed some 50 camps so far. "We now need to target as many as possible of the remaining 575 camps, especially those where people live in dangerous and exposed conditions susceptible to storm damage," Dall'Oglio concluded.
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For more information please contact Leonard Doyle at IOM Haiti. Tel. +509.37025066 - Email: ldoyle@iom.int

Just back from another

Just back from another medical mission at Saint Marc, the misery continues; approximately 40% of the patients had severe wound infections that will probably result in dreaded amputations. Our team has tirelessly worked with our Haitian colleagues to save limbs however, lack of resources, proper wound care and antibiotics have taken its toll.
We continue to work with PIH in supporting internal medicine and the orthopedic services BUT we need to form relationships with companies that can provide adequate prosthesis. While amputation is a very last resort, it may ultimately shorten a Haitian’s life if we cannot provide adequate recourses to support the activities of daily living.
Malnutrition continues to plague the young and old and way too many children perish as a result. While my initial experience in Port au Prince shortly after the earth quake was like being in a war zone, base line Haiti remains impressive in terms of extreme deprivation. The people are still remarkable.

The Dream of Safe Housing in Haiti (Interaction - 8/21/2012)

By Chris Sheach
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In response to Deborah Sontag’s investigative report in the New York Times on the state of housing for earthquake survivors in Haiti, I wanted to explain why building permanent homes is so challenging and revisit the idea of transitional shelters (T-shelters) and repairing damaged homes as ways to provide shelter for the homeless immediately after a disaster. In countries like Haiti, between one-third and one-half of the urban population lives in informal slums, essentially trespassing on government or private property. Many of these shelters are well below the minimum humanitarian standards to which aid agencies adhere. While working in informal settlements in Port-au-Prince, World Concern found that many people preferred the cramped quarters of a one-room shelter for large, extended families over the option of moving out of the city, away from jobs, transit and markets. In other words, moving people to outlying areas where large pieces of land might be developed for housing is not the best solution. T-shelters are intended to last three years, with the understanding that a permanent housing solution will not be available before that time. It is important to note that the alternative is replacement tents every six months, which would cost approximately the same amount over the same time.
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World Concern was one of several agencies that focused our work on repairing more than 2,000 damaged “yellow”-coded houses. Where houses could not be repaired, World Concern developed T-shelters with a permanent foundation, providing homeowners with a solid beginning on which they could build earthquake resistant housing within their own means. An independent report prepared for USAID concluded that, of the 894,588 that fled to camps in the days after the earthquake, more than 85 percent had returned to their homes by May 2011. This report concluded that there are many in the camps who are “hoping to take advantage of the aid; not necessarily renters.” This same study showed that yellow and green houses had a return rate of more than 95 percent, including renters. One of the key contributions of foreign aid was the removal of more than 5 million cubic meters of rubble from the streets, walkways and private properties of Port-au-Prince. More than 50 percent of homes would not have been accessible without this work, and the cleared roads have enabled construction crews to rebuild more quickly.
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Demolition of condemned buildings is not only expensive, but it’s a time consuming process. Many of these buildings are multistory rental units or larger homes of wealthy families. Some of the latter have left town or even left the country, leaving a condemned building with no hope for new opportunities. Other landowners want the demolition to occur, but are not willing to accept single family units on their plot of land, preferring rather to wait until they have enough funds to replace the multistory complex they once had. Land rights are an important part of democratic rule of law. If a former landlord refuses to rebuild, or to accept the affordable housing solutions offered by aid agencies, that is their prerogative. It also takes time to work with the government to implement aid. Before the earthquake, Haiti did not have an urban redevelopment plan, so agencies have worked with the government to ensure an enforceable strategy is in place, rather than willy-nilly construction that creates a new hazard for the future. This strategy, while slow, is seen as the only way to prevent the cycle of calamity repeating itself again.
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After the 2004 earthquake in Banda Aceh, it took more than five years to replace 140,000 homes. After two years, Port-au-Prince is only just shy of the same average rate of construction, with most of the heavy lifting already done. While there is much more to do, the dream of safe housing is much closer for most Haitians than it was before the tragic events of 2010.

Decision to Demolish National Palace Draws Strong Criticism

8/22/2012
The Miami Herald
By Jacqueline Charles
jcharles@MiamiHerald.com
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It is Haiti’s most powerful and recognizable symbol — the very embodiment of Haitian identity. Now the National Palace, almost toppled in the cataclysmic January 2010 earthquake, is coming down. “When I took office, I said that rebuilding the Palace was not a priority for me,” President Michel Martelly said Wednesday in a ceremony on the palace’s once-manicured grounds. “Time has now come to take a look at buildings that were destroyed in the quake and that embody our national pride and our will as a people to always keep our head held high.” Located on the plaza of independence heroes near downtown Port-au-Prince, the once magnificent white concrete structure with its columns and imposing domes, has long been the most powerful symbol of the Haitian state and presidency. But after the devastation, its shattered domes and crumbled columns had come to symbolize the disaster.
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While Haitians agree that the palace is iconic, the president’s decision is being met with criticism and debate. Many are questioning why the demolition is being done by a foreigner, namely, actor Sean Penn through his charity organization J/P HRO. Haitians have taken to the radio and social media. While some argue that as a measure of national pride, Haiti should shoulder the responsibility of demolishing and rebuilding its own palace, others say Penn’s involvement simply solidifies what many believe — that the country is incapable of addressing even its most basic needs and has no other choice but to allow foreigners to lead the way. “Sean Penn tearing down the National Palace is a reflection of Haiti’s vanishing sovereignty,” said Daly Valet, editor of Le Matin newspaper in Port-au-Prince. “The Haitian people have lost control over their destiny. If the international community and their NGOs have succeeded in one thing in Haiti, it is making Haiti anything but a real country with a respectable state.”
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Ilio Durandis, who lives in Boston and engaged in a lively Twitter debate in English and Creole over the decision, agreed. “The demolition and/or reconstruction of public buildings are matters of national interest, national security, and national governance,” he tweeted. “It’s one thing to help those that a national government cannot take care, but it’s different to hand over the government to a charity. Sickening.” Jean-Junior Joseph, a political blogger, said the demolition could easily be handled by Haiti’s Ministry of Public Works, or the state-run Center for National Equipment. In the days and weeks after the quake, CNE had proposed tearing down the structure using government workers for $25,000. In fact, one Broward-based firm seeking to win Haitian government contracts had loaned CNE two specialized excavators to work on demolishing the National Palace, parking them in front of the mansion.
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But the demolition never happened. Meanwhile, former Haitian President René Préval, fearing national backlash, turned down an offer by France, Haiti’s former colonial master, to reconstruct the palace, which was built by U.S. naval engineers during the American occupation. The architect was Georges Baussan, a Haitian who had participated in a national competition to design the palace. “Now, a century later, the Haitian federal government lacks the dignity and even the financial and human resources to have children of the nation do even that,” Joseph said. Damian Merlo, a presidential spokesman, said the demolition will be “an initiative of the Haitian government.” “The vast majority of people to be hired to do the work will be Haitian,” he said. “The government of Haiti is studying various options as to what would be built to replace the National Palace.”
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Merlo said there is no contract between the government and J/P HRO, which is donating the project to the government. “What we have is a letter from [The Haitian Institute for the Preservation of the National Heritage] authorizing J/P HRO to conduct site surveillance and demolition activity,” he said. As for how the charity got involved in the first place, he said, the topic came up in a meeting with Penn while he was discussing his charity’s work in Haiti. “Penn mentioned that his organization [J/P HRO] could provide the engineers and equipment to do the demolition at no cost to the government,” Merlo said. Martelly said the demolition, which will begin in coming days, represents a fresh start for the country. “Today, we say to all other people in the world that despite all the forces and disasters blowing on Haiti, we will forever be a strong people, a proud people which, as our ancestors did, will always rise up in the middle of the battlefield and scream ‘Forward!’” he said. Former Tourism Minister Patrick Delatour, who is among a handful of Haitian architects who have worked on either restorations or construction projects at the palace that includes a presidential apartment, said Penn is just the latest foreigner being tapped by the Martelly administration to lead Haiti’s reconstruction to the dismay of the country’s architects, engineers and contractors.
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A Dominican firm was tasked to construct a new parliament building and a Taiwanese entity is said to be involved in the construction of government ministries, Delatour said. Meanwhile, a plan to reconstruct downtown Port-au-Prince that would have involved Haitian architects, has been put on the backburner. “It is a sorry state of a nation that today says the symbol of the reconstruction of the country should not be in the hands of prominent Haitian architects and engineers, who themselves have been recognized by the international community,” Delatour said. “This particular government does not seem to have any trust or confidence in the ability of Haitian artists, professionals and institutions to steer the reconstruction of the country,” he added. “The logic from them being, the different professionals and institutions that participated in governing the country for the past 25 years have failed and have not managed to deliver any product. That is a very shortsighted view of what has been done.”

Storm Adds to Misery in Haiti's Homeless Camps (8/25/2012)

New York Times
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD
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MEXICO CITY — Tropical Storm Isaac whirled across Haiti on Saturday, delivering strong winds and rain that caused flooding, mudslides and at least a few deaths, according to preliminary reports, but not the kind of widespread destruction feared in the earthquake-battered nation. Radio news reports and social media users reported streets flooding in the capital, Port-au-Prince; some mudslides in rural areas; downed trees and power lines; and shredded tents that left people miserably soaked in the camps that house about 400,000 survivors of the January 2010 earthquake. The brunt of the storm slashed through Haiti’s southern peninsula, its 60-mile-an-hour winds blowing the roofs off houses in Jacmel, a tourist resort on the south coast, residents said.
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After crossing Haiti, the storm skirted the eastern coast of Cuba late Saturday, heading toward the Florida Keys. No deaths were reported in Cuba. The storm is expected to strengthen and could be a hurricane by the time it reaches the United States later on Sunday. In Tampa on Saturday, Republicans canceled the opening day of their national convention because of the storm, which is predicted to slide past Florida’s western coast. In Haiti, at least four people were reported killed by early afternoon, including a 10-year-old girl who died in Thomazeau when a wall collapsed, The Associated Press reported, citing the civil defense authorities. Reports were still trickling in by early evening, and hillsides have been known to give way hours after heavy rains. But spot checks by journalists and aid workers suggested Haiti had avoided a major calamity. Still, the suffering was evident.
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One small earthquake survivors’ camp near Port-au-Prince was obliterated. “There was wind, wind and the whole camp fell down,” Marie Yolande Dorcin, 33, who is four months pregnant, said, shivering, as she and a friend tried to salvage belongings from her collapsed shelter. “Everybody went running to the church, screaming, falling.” Joselain Joseph, 32, watched as a swollen river carried away trash, branches and even a basketball. It had destroyed a concrete depot where she kept rice, beans and other goods she sells. “I rely on God now,” she said. “I don’t know what to say or do.” In the Sou Piste camp in Port-au-Prince, violent winds lacerated lean-tos of wood scraps and tarp. Berta Brutus, 30; Riche Silface, 32; and their two young children were briefly trapped early Saturday when the storm came through. “We were all on the bed when the wind blew the house down,” Ms. Brutus said. “We started screaming ‘Jesus! Jesus!’ because we thought we could die.”
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A neighbor took the two children, but there was no room for Ms. Brutus and Mr. Silface, so they spent the rest of the night under the tarp of their collapsed house. Local radio reports indicated that 5,000 people had been evacuated in the provinces and more than 3,000 around the capital. They were sent to government buildings, schools and other temporary shelters, though many mistrusted the plans and stayed behind in the camps. American Embassy officials began damage assessment in the afternoon. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida declared a pre-emptive statewide emergency on Saturday; state agencies were already setting up storm shelters. The storm also left about 70 rural communities in the Dominican Republic cut off by flooding and mudslides, the United States Agency for International Development said. Some flooding was also reported in Cuba.
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In Haiti, the Red Cross sent trucks into camps perched on the hillsides of the capital to broadcast warnings over loudspeakers, said France Hurtubise, a spokeswoman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Port-au-Prince. On Friday, the Haitian government began evacuating 2,000 women, children and elderly people from government-run camps in the capital that were at risk for mudslides, and other residents were asked to seek shelter with friends and relatives. Many people were unwilling to leave their homes in the camps for fear of looting. “We cannot force them to leave,” Ms. Hurtubise said. “We can only make sure that they have the best protection.” Lina Millien’s shelter at the Sou Piste camp stayed standing, but her tarp roof leaked so badly that there was no way for her, her husband and their six children to stay dry. “I put the baby under a table, and we tried to go under the bed, but there was water coming up from the floor,” said Ms. Millien, 35. “In past storms we could stand in the corners where the leaks are not too bad to stay dry, but with this storm there were no corners, there was no escape. Some in Sou Piste ran to a nearby health clinic built by Partners in Health, a nongovernmental organization, to take shelter, but Ms. Millien said she was afraid of what would happen if she went outside. “The wind sounded like a plane landing, and I could hear people everywhere praying loudly and crying,” she said. “I looked outside in the night and saw mothers with their babies screaming and trying to run to the shelter.” Lisa Armstrong contributed reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Years After Haiti Quake, Safe Housing a Dream for Many

8/15/2012
New York Times
By DEBORAH SONTAG
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Since the earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010, a scrappy 12-year-old boy named Givenson Fanfan has been sleeping on the rock-hard floor of a tent pitched in a fetid camp dominated by a 50-foot tower of trash. He dreams of a bed. In a hillside community, Terilien Brice, a 63-year-old grievously injured in the earthquake, lives like a shut-in inside his condemned house, which was marked with a red tag that is supposed to mean “no entry,” not no exit. He feels helpless. Dieu Juste Saint Eloi, 68, in contrast, secured a one-room shelter with plastic sheeting for walls, but his clan of 12 squeezes into it. And it perches on a ledge above the ruins of his spacious home, into which his granddaughter keeps tumbling and breaking bones. Unexpectedly, though, his 29-year-old son, William Saint Eloi, hit the housing jackpot. Isolated all his life because he is deaf, he now has a new home and community because two can-do Christian charities have taken deaf disaster victims under wing. Two and a half years after the earthquake, despite billions of dollars in reconstruction aid, the most obvious, pressing need — safe, stable housing for all displaced people — remains unmet. In what international officials term a protracted humanitarian crisis, hundreds of thousands remain in increasingly wretched tent camps. Tens of thousands inhabit dangerously damaged buildings. And countless others, evicted from camps and yards, have simply disappeared with their raggedy tarps and rusty sheet metal into the hills.
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There are many visible signs of activity across the country now — public plazas cleared of lean-tos, state-of-the-art repairs in selected areas and housing developments under construction. Tens of thousands of Haitian families have found enduring solutions to their housing crises — by rebuilding themselves, by getting reconstruction assistance or by securing one of the relatively few new houses. But to spend a week exploring the disaster zone is to discover striking disparities in living conditions, often glaringly juxtaposed: Givenson’s dead-end camp adjacent to a quarter that is a beehive of construction; William Saint Eloi’s good fortune next to his family’s trials; a devastated community revitalized on one side of a ravine but not the other. In the absence of an overarching housing policy, Haiti’s shelter problem has been tackled unsystematically, in a way that has favored rural over urban victims and homeowners over renters because their needs were more easily met. Many families with the least resources have been neglected unless they happened to belong to a tent camp, neighborhood or vulnerable population targeted by a particular program. “It’s the project syndrome — one neighborhood gets incredible resources, the next is in total limbo, or one camp gets rental subsidies, the next gets nothing,” said Maggie Stephenson, a senior technical adviser to U.N.-Habitat in Haiti. “We have to spread the remaining resources more equitably. Equity is essential, and so are durable solutions.” A World Bank document estimates that more than $400 million in “large-scale permanent solutions” — new houses, home repairs and infrastructure reconstruction — are planned, under way and in a few cases completed. To date, though, small-scale temporary solutions — transitional shelters, mostly in the countryside, and yearlong rental subsidies in the city — have soaked up a lot of the shelter reconstruction budget. One-room transitional shelters dominated the international effort initially. T-shelters, as they are called, were intended to move people out of the camps while permanent housing was being built. But they took much longer to erect and cost far more than anticipated: at least $500 million for 125,000 shelters not built to last, said Priscilla M. Phelps, housing adviser to the now-defunct Interim Haiti Recovery Commission. “They are mainly made up of wood, and, in this climate, they will be eaten by termites and rot in three to five years,” said H. Kit Miyamoto, a seismic engineer working in Haiti since the earthquake. “All the money spent on T-shelters will be melted away.” At the same time, while more than 200,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, international aid has led to an estimated 15,000 repairs and 5,700 new, permanent homes so far. Most of the new houses are outside greater Port-au-Prince, where it was easier to obtain land, and some have yet to be occupied.
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A high-profile project of 400 new houses in Zoranje, for instance, is still largely empty five months after President Michel Martelly cut the ribbon on it. About 25 families — all of government workers — had moved in by the end of July; the rest were delayed because the complex had not yet been connected to water. Mr. Martelly’s focus has been on reclaiming six prominent public squares by relocating tent dwellers to rental apartments. Cash grants subsidize a year’s rent only, and the relocation program, run by international groups, has been labor-intensive, with at least a third of its cost going to overhead. Some Haitians criticize the approach, now being used to clear some smaller camps, too, as sweeping the enormous homelessness problem from view and delaying its resolution. But Giovanni Cassani, the coordinator of humanitarian camps in Haiti, said rental subsidies and temporary shelters, some far sturdier than others, were “definitely better than the camps.” “Anything is better than the camps,” he said.
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Etched into a hillside, Givenson’s camp lies in an area called Golgotha, after the hilltop where Jesus was crucified — “a place of great suffering,” one resident explained. Before the earthquake, Golgotha was the dump for the adjacent neighborhood, which was hit hard by the disaster. “My house was crushed,” Givenson said recently as he tossed a deflated soccer ball. He was home alone when the shaking started, but his father ran down the mountain to scoop him up and carry him to safety. His big toe was injured, he said, but that was it. Givenson, his father and his father’s girlfriend fled to the dump during the emergency. Two and a half years later they are still there, in the deteriorating camping tent his father purchased then. They are among the 390,000 Haitians in the 575 remaining camps; this does not include what humanitarian authorities say are the tens of thousands forcibly evicted from camps over the last two months who also remain homeless. The camps are in abysmal condition, with many, like Givenson’s, on sites at risk of landslides or flooding. Tents and tarps — “From the American people,” many say — are tattered. There is one shower for every 1,200 people, and one functional latrine for every 77. Asked where he went to the bathroom, Givenson scampered down a steep incline and urinated into a trash-filled ravine at the bottom, not bothering with the 10 flimsy outhouses that serve the 800 or so above. Small for his age but self-assured, Givenson, unlike many adults in the camps, is not resigned to his fate. He demands answers. “I don’t get it,” he said. “Everything that’s happening around here with the reconstruction, we can’t seem to get a piece of it.” Givenson’s former neighborhood bustles with masons as homeowners rebuild with international help. But Givenson’s father, an ironworker, was a renter. For the moment, his family’s fate is nobody’s concern.
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Leading the way to his tent, Givenson stepped deftly over feces and skinny dogs prostrate in the heat. He pushed open a rusty sheet-metal gate spray-painted “Radios fixed here” — “my little business,” he said. He ushered visitors inside. A bare bulb dangled; it was sweltering. “I don’t like anything about it,” he said of his tent. He described his dream house: It would have tables, chairs, a hutch and a yard. “I’d like the house to be strongly built in case there are tremors, and I would not like a concrete roof but one with metal in case there’s an earthquake, so as not to have broken bones.” Givenson says he spends a lot of time in his tent singing. He and his friends have a band called Zobob and, the boy without a bed said, they are saving money for instruments. In a sweet, scratchy voice, Givenson sang a plaintive ballad that he wrote about Haitian misery after the earthquake and cholera epidemic. “When I look at this country of mine, which once was the pearl of the Antilles,” he sang in Creole, “I think, Oh, good God, where will we end up?”
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Next door in Villa Rosa, on a steep hill inaccessible to cars, Terilien Brice built his salmon-color house in stages, starting 35 years ago. The first story was small and shallow, the second deeper and wider and the third only an aspiration — rebar reaching for the sky — when the earthquake struck. Mr. Brice felt his house spinning and ran but was pinned beneath tumbling concrete blocks. He was badly injured; “I’m paralyzed now,” he said. But he could lift his thin legs and seemed to be describing a broader paralysis: he does not know what to do now. “I don’t have the means to demolish the house,” he said. “That’s why I’m still living inside.” Greater Port-au-Prince is pocked with buildings that are half-standing, half-collapsed, including the National Palace, which one cynical aid worker described as “the beggar’s stump,” an enduring symbol of Haiti’s need for help. Nobody knows exactly how many are living inside such wreckage. A study for the United States Agency for International Development estimated that 65 percent of condemned properties had been reinhabited as of last year. And a yearlong building inspection tagged about 80,000 houses red: beyond repair. “Red houses are truly dangerous,” said Mr. Miyamoto, the engineer whose firm led the inspections. “There is supposed to be no entry.” After the earthquake, Mr. Brice and his wife spent months in a junked car behind a church while their grown children helped clear enough rubble for them to move back into one relatively intact room in their red-tagged house. They plastered the large cracks on the interior walls but left the gaping fissures on the exterior untouched. Increasingly weak, Mr. Brice says he has not ventured outside since May. He urinates and defecates in plastic baggies, he said. Outside his crumbling edifice, his neighborhood is being rebuilt by a Dutch charity, Cordaid, and other groups in an inventive collaboration with homeowners, who are empowered to choose the architectural design, buy the materials, hire the masons trained by the groups and oversee their personal projects. Many red-tagged houses like Mr. Brice’s are either retrofitted or replaced with especially hardy shelters. But a fifth of the damaged homes’ owners are not benefiting, because their houses would be too expensive or dangerous to repair safely or because they declined a shelter. “There is a sadness that we are leaving out so many people,” said Koen Wagenbuur of Cordaid. “Our money only goes so far.” He said he did not have information about Mr. Brice’s situation. Beyond Villa Rosa, the repairs under way will reach a third of the 120,000 homes tagged yellow for “dangerous but with limited damage,” Mr. Miyamoto said. Red-tagged houses, more difficult and expensive to tackle, nonetheless must be addressed as soon as possible, he said. Mr. Brice said he needed help urgently: “Please,” he said.
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North of greater Port-au-Prince, an internationally created compound called Corail Cesselesse sits beneath improvised settlements that Haitians themselves built in the surrounding foothills. The mood in the valley is far more downbeat, providing a glimpse into the limitations of aid efforts versus self-created solutions. In the spring of 2010, international groups relocated more than a thousand displaced people to the barren, windswept area from a tent city considered dangerous. It was a well-intentioned relocation championed by the actor Sean Penn, whose humanitarian group managed the tent city. But some disaster experts consider it to have been a mistake, imposed on a group without options. “We did not decide to come here,” Roland Bertrand, 30, said. “They decided for us.” Corail now has the largest installation of temporary shelters, and they are lined up regimentally in precise rows. From the hills above, the community looks like a jigsaw of tin roofs fitted tightly together on a bed of coarse gravel. Many residents see the transitional shelters as little boxes in the desert: small, hot and, especially, remote. “There is nothing to do here: no activities, no work,” Antoine Jean Mejne, a barber, said. “When they first moved us here, they had a cash-for-work program and we complained about the pay” — $5 a day. “But now all we have are the shelters. You can’t eat a shelter.”
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Exeline Belcombe, an elegant 25-year-old who traverses the rock-strewed settlement in a gauzy turquoise skirt, high heels and blue eye shadow, helped persuade people to move there. She lived in a tent among them and served as a paid liaison between the community and Mr. Penn’s group. Now, she said, she feels a little guilty and disappointed, too. “These are not real houses. Imagine seven or eight people, 10 to 12 people in a one-room shelter? It’s not a life.” Laura Blank, spokeswoman for World Vision, the group that constructed the shelters and a school there, said, “Building permanent housing is not part of World Vision’s general program objective.” She added that the shelters were sturdier than the “lower-quality shelters built by other organizations” and could last up to a decade “if well maintained.” Ms. Belcombe doubts that, and she and her neighbors feel the impermanence of their situation like a hovering question mark. But for the moment, Ms. Belcombe said, she is determined to make Corail into a real place. She runs a beauty salon and a restaurant out of two adjoining shelters. She started a women’s group (the Organization of Fearless Ladies), a library and a canteen that, with donated rice, offers hot meals for 35 cents. “We have to forge our own destiny,” she said. She pointed to the homes that have sprouted, helter-skelter, in the scrubby foothills above. “That’s what they are doing.” After the government claimed the land around Corail through eminent domain, about 50,000 displaced Haitians resettled themselves in the off-the-grid communities they named Canaan, Jerusalem and Obama. Some erected tents or shanties, but thousands have built homes without outside help. “Out here, we depend on nobody but each other,” Fabienor Chada, 43, said. “We owe nothing to foreigners and nothing to our government. We look only to God for aid, though a small loan or grant would come in handy.” Mr. Chada, a tailor, never moved his family to a tent camp and so never got counted as a potential beneficiary. He moved his family from one relative’s house to another until he heard about Canaan. He said he paid a fee to “some men” for the hilltop he now “owns,” by the Wild West logic of the frontier land. He constructed a simple concrete-block house. He could not afford to buy iron to reinforce the concrete and could not figure out how to attach the tin roof more securely. He makes his living sewing school uniforms, not in the building trade, he said. So he could use some technical advice and a little cash to build a latrine where he already dug a hole. It would be nice, too, if the government acknowledged Canaan as a fact on the ground and extended electricity and water there, he said. He, for one, feels he is forging a legacy: “When I die, I will have something to pass on to my daughter.”
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For the first time in six months, William Saint Eloi, was leaving the lush green countryside dotted with new, pastel-color houses to see the family he left behind in Port-au-Prince. With anticipation, he climbed the bald rock to his family’s ruined house in late July. His 4-year-old niece spotted him: “Bébé!” she cried out. Fortunately, Mr. Saint Eloi could not hear her. That “bébé” is the term used in Creole for a deaf person infuriates him, he had just said through a sign-language interpreter: “We are not babies!” Immediately after the earthquake, some deaf Haitians grew concerned that others were lying beneath the rubble unable to cry out for help. Though many had previously lived in isolation in a society that often treated them as mentally disabled, they banded together — first for search and rescue, then for communal living, with 168 deaf families gathering in a single tent camp. Mr. Saint Eloi, rarely in the company of others with whom he could communicate in sign language, joined them. It was the first time he had left his parents and eight siblings, a warm, loving clan. Little did he imagine that he would end up in a better place than them. Enter the American missionaries. One group, The 410 Bridge, based in Georgia, was working with the deaf families who were soon facing eviction from a camp that was scheduled to be closed. The 410 Bridge had raised money to build them houses but could not find an affordable property with clear title. The other group had land but limited funds. Mission of Hope, based in Florida, had leveraged 25 years of experience in Haiti into securing 100 government-owned acres in rural Leveque. It was building an idyllic, if remote, community and had the capacity to scale up, but its private donations only went so far. Ms. Phelps, the shelter expert for the Haiti recovery commission, said Mission of Hope, with deep roots and a continuing commitment to their area, was one of few groups that had managed to build quickly and intelligently with low overhead. “They’re not just plopping down housing and going away like others,” she said. Brad Johnson, the mission’s president, said, “We’re not one of the big groups that sit in Washington, D.C., and get the financing.” He continued: “But we’re managing to get it done for $6,000 a house. I don’t understand, for all the money that came into Haiti, why there aren’t houses everywhere.”
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The two groups found each other. Now nearly 300 simple houses have been constructed, about half for the deaf and half for the hearing. Each house has a small plot for cultivation. The deaf community’s section has solar-powered lighting so people can communicate through sign language at night. In February, Mr. Saint Eloi got the key to house No. 301, pale yellow with a covered veranda. He planted papaya saplings and plantain trees, aloe and lemon verbena. He arranged stones in a heart at the center of his garden. Training to become the deaf community’s pastor, he is enthusiastically learning to tell Bible stories with his elastic face and dancing hands. He has a new girlfriend, too, a woman who started a communal jewelry-making business using beads fashioned from newspaper and nail polish. “We are really happy here,” he said. He rubbed his chest emphatically and smiled. “I don’t ever want to go back to Port-au-Prince.” Except to visit. One by one, his relatives emerged to greet him, waving from their “terrace,” a jagged, concrete cliff hanging over the rock pile that they do not have money to rebuild into a home. Pushing aside the curtain that covers their shelter without a door, they ushered him into the one room that somehow sleeps 12. The shelter, which they said fills with water during storms, is dominated by a mahogany bed salvaged from their house, its broken frame bound together with string, “like a photocopy of the original,” his mother said. She beamed as he embraced her. “William has had a very hard life,” she said. “He deserves a reward. Thank God that somebody in this family got help.” A version of this article appeared in print on August 16, 2012, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Years After Haiti Quake, Safe Housing Is Dream for Multitudes.

Thousands in Haiti Show Up For Festival (AP - 7/30/2012)

Thousands of revelers have poured into the downtown area of Haiti's capital to kick off a three-day festival called the "Carnival of Flowers." The Haitian government held the main Carnival celebrations this year in the countryside, in large part because a public plaza in Port-au-Prince still housed thousands of people displaced by the 2010 earthquake. It was the first time in memory Carnival was held outside Haiti's capital. The administration of President Michel Martelly wanted to hold Sunday's celebration to mark the clearing of the park-turned-settlement and also let people in Port-au-Prince enjoy their own Carnival. Some critics have questioned the wisdom of spending about $1.6 million on the event. The government says that the celebration will boost morale and provide jobs.

New Radio Soap Opera Connects Displaced to Services

7/26/2012
Christian Science Monitor
By Ezra Fieser
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After the ground stopped shaking and the dust settled, the most illustrative reminder of the January 2010 earthquake’s devastation – and its slow recovery – was the thousands of camps that housed survivors. The earthquake sent some 1.5 million Haitians to live in tents or tarp-covered shacks crammed together in public parks, on private land, and even highway medians. The miserable conditions were made even worse by storms, a cholera epidemic, widespread domestic and sexual violence, and a daily struggle for food and water. Now, life in an earthquake refugee camp is serving as the basis for a radio soap opera hitting Haitian airwaves. In the style of the popular Latino television soap operas, or telenovelas (but without the steamy story lines), the radio series follows the life of one family that survived the earthquake only to find a drawn-out struggle in a camp. The show is set to debut in August and air for the next six months in five-minute-long episodes broadcast on Haiti’s most popular radio stations. The family will encounter many of the problems that have plagued the residents of Haiti’s tent cities for the past two and half years, from illness to violence.
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Local voice actors recorded the 72-part series, called “Bati Lespwa” (Building Hope), in Haitian Creole in a Port-au-Prince studio. The storyline, however, is culled from dozens of interviews with camp residents. The result is a composite sketch of one family: parents, two children, and a grandmother, says Marina Pimental de Isa, representative for Spain-based Humanismo y Democracia, one of several nonprofit organizations that came together to produce the series.
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“It is very much based on the reality of the situation within the camps,” Ms. Pimental says. Pimental’s organization has success with radio soap operas. It previously broadcast a series on water – covering everything from sanitation to the importance of watershed management – in both Spanish and Creole along the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. In “Building Hope,” each chapter, accompanied by original Haitian kompas music, ends with a message that aims to point residents toward government and social services.
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In one episode, Nadine (the mother), and her mother-in-law visit the clinic because she thinks she is pregnant:
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Doctor: Dear ... You're pregnant! Congratulations!
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Grandmother: Oh my daughter! Congratulations! We will have a new baby in the family!
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Nadine: How wonderful doctor! Although conditions are not favorable! Raising a baby in the camp should be very hard.
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Doctor: Yes, but you are you and your husband and you have a beautiful, responsible family. I'm sure everyone will help you to have the best pregnancy possible. … From now, you have to be careful. Don't work so hard, eat well and, of course, no drinking.
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Nadine: Of course not, Doctor. I have experience with the other two pregnancies. I'll try to take care of myself and I'll come to see you every month to make sure all is well.
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The episode ends with a message reminding pregnant women to eat well, and rely on the support of family and medical clinics. “They go through frustrating days, and good days. … We tried to capture that. We also try to instill hope,” Pimental says of the radio program's target audience in the camps.
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The program is aimed at residents like Jean Cassandre, who came to live in a camp after her family’s home was destroyed, killing her aunt. Today, she shares a two-room plywood and corrugated metal home with five family members. Beds, crammed together like Tetris pieces, leave a little space for a few shelves for pots and pans, a TV, and clothes. A charcoal fireplace sits out front next to a few scraggly banana trees and a makeshift bathroom behind a donated blue tarp. “There’s no privacy. You get tired of living on top of each other,” says Ms. Cassandre, a rail-thin 21-year-old who rarely leaves the camp. She spends most of her day working as a babysitter at an aid agency program which provides activities for some 350 children living in the camp.
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The home, built by the International Migration Organization (IOM), was supposed to be temporary. “I dream about leaving. Anywhere. I’d go anywhere,” she says. “But we don’t have anywhere else to go. We don’t have the money to rent a house.” Cassandre says she has heard mention of government programs, such as relocation assistance and free schooling, but she has no idea where to look for help. The radio program “is a good idea because any information it can provide will be useful. All you hear are rumors,” she says. Leaving the camps
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Aid worker Ludie Jean says he hopes the project will serve as a “sort of guide for residents.” Not just those living in the camp, “but anyone who needs assistance,” says Mr. Jean, whose organization, the Haitian Institute for Integral Development (IHDI), monitors the effectiveness of the broadcast. Jean and a team of workers will provide free social services, including psychological assistance and theater programs for children, in conjunction with the radio program. “We want to build on [the program’s messaging] to help people work through problems,” Jean says.
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According to the IOM’s most recent count, the camp population has dropped to 421,000. The number of camps has fallen to 602 from 1,555 in July 2010. Many camp dwellers relocated to housing thanks to a rental subsidy of 20,000 gourdes (about $500). Others went to live with family members, and some just built shacks elsewhere. On the radio, at least one Haitian family's ordeal ends well: They move into their own home. With more than enough misery to go around, “we wanted this to be positive,” Pimental says.

At Least 4 Die in Police Eviction From National Park (7/27/12)

Associated Press
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Investigators from the United Nations' peacekeeping mission in Haiti are trying to figure out how at least four Haitians died after police officers carried out an eviction in a national park. A statement on Friday from the U.N. said the killings took place in the southeastern town of Seguin, but didn't say when. Several people were also injured. The U.N. mission also said that forced evictions are contrary to international human rights when alternative housing isn't provided. A Haitian police spokesman said he wasn't aware of the episode but would look into it. He couldn't be reached later in the day.

U.S. and Haiti Partner for Stability and Prosperity (7/27/2012)

Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe’s visit to Washington offered an opportunity to take stock of Haiti’s accomplishments as it continues its recovery from natural disaster, as well as a chance to assess the continuing challenges that lie ahead, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said. Speaking with Lamothe July 24 at the State Department, Clinton said the January 12, 2010, earthquake exacerbated challenges Haiti was already facing, such as poverty and high unemployment, and the Obama administration has focused U.S. support on improving the country’s agricultural sector, health care, infrastructure and the rule of law.
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Clinton said she made Haiti a U.S. foreign policy priority when she assumed office in 2009 and made a commitment to “change the way that we partnered with Haiti, moving from working in Haiti to working with Haiti.” Following the earthquake, “we scrambled to make sure we were being a good partner in helping Haiti recover from such devastation, but at the same time, working with them to help build a firm foundation for more prosperity and stability,” she said. The secretary said the first factory in the landmark Caracol Industrial Park in northern Haiti has begun operations, and the project has just signed its second tenant. Caracol “captures an integrated, sustainable approach to economic development” and is “drawing companies and will create more than 20,000 new jobs for Haitians,” she said. Nearby, construction is under way on more than 1,200 homes that will have electricity, water and sanitation, and are designed to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes, she said.
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Prime Minister Lamothe said the park is “a development model that we want to replicate and that we want to support” to help bring down the country’s high unemployment rate. He said that 20,000 new jobs will generate 10 to 20 percent more economic opportunities. “That means over [100,000] to 200,000 people will benefit from that park. That’s why it’s important to not only promote the park, but seek additional tenants and improve the capacity of that park to make it a big success. And once it’s inaugurated in October … we assure that the rest of the world will see what us Haitians see, which is a success story,” Lamothe said. Clinton said the United States has also been working to improve Haiti’s agricultural sector through its Feed the Future Initiative. So far the program has provided nearly 10,000 Haitian farmers with better seeds, fertilizer and techniques to improve productivity. As a result, Clinton said, rice yields have more than doubled and corn yields have more than quadrupled, and the program is seeking to expand over the next few years to help 100,000 Haitian farmers.
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The secretary said Haiti’s cholera fatality rate has fallen from 9 percent to just over 1 percent, and the United States has been working with its partners in Haiti and the health sector to help make that happen. “But we know that the only way to stop cholera long term is through improved water and sanitation. So we’re working with the Inter-American Development Bank and other donors on water, sanitation and hygiene programs. And we’re working to upgrade health clinics in Haiti and to renovate the general hospital in Port-au-Prince in partnership with France,” she said. The United States has helped to remove more than 2 million cubic meters of rubble and worked with the Haitian government to return more than 1 million people who had been displaced by the earthquake to temporary shelters and safer homes, Clinton said. The secretary also praised the Haitian government’s reforms, including standing up a superior judiciary council and making the current government the first to have its executive, legislative and judicial branches functioning concurrently since 1987.
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In making their country more stable, “Haitians have been in the lead at each step,” she said, taking ownership and setting priorities. “The United States can be helpful, but what’s really important is building the capacity of the Haitian government and the Haitian society so they can have the means and the experience and the expertise to solve their own problems,” she said. Lamothe said the Haitian government is working to move the country away from its dependence on international assistance. “We are building our capacity to … increase the tax revenues, increase the custom duty revenue, decrease spending on energy subsidies to increase, again, government revenues,” he said. The government is also investing in an infrastructure project to provide electricity throughout the island, he said.

Ground Breaking Ceremony for Disaster Response Facilities

7/17/2012
US Department of State
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On Tuesday July 17, 2012 the ground-breaking ceremony for the Emergency Operations Center was held in Miragoâne. The center will also include a Disaster Relief Warehouse and a Fire Station. Several local and U.S. officials, including Mrs. Colombia Barrosse, the Consul General of the United States in Haiti, the Director of the Direction of Civil Protection, Mrs. Alta Jean Baptiste, the Departmental Delegate, Mr. Alex Tropnas and the Mayor of Miragoâne, Mr. Joseph Franseau, attended this event. Functional emergency operations centers and disaster relief warehouses are critical to saving lives and minimizing damage to property immediately after disasters. The Emergency Operations Center will allow local emergency response personnel to collect and analyze reported information, make decisions, and manage Haiti’s collective response to emergencies or natural disasters. The warehouse will store the materials necessary to respond and provide relief to affected populations.
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The Fire Station will provide additional fire fighting and emergency service capabilities to the Miragoâne area. This facility will increase the quality of life of the local population by helping provide vital and needed services. The facility will also be available to play a significant role in the event of a larger scale emergency within Haiti. Speaking on behalf of Ambassador Merten, Mrs. Colombia Barrosse said: Haiti is taking the necessary steps for a safer, more resilient country that is less vulnerable to natural disasters. The United States government looks forward to continuing our fruitful partnerships with the Government of Haiti and members of the International Community to make Haiti safer and assist the people of Haiti in building and sustaining their capacity to prepare for, and respond to emergencies and disasters.”
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For her part, the Direction of Civil Protection Director, Mrs. Alta Jean Baptiste, speaking on behalf of the Minister of Interior, Thierry Mayard Paul saluted U.S. contributions to this project, and highlighted that "the civil protection is not the issue of a person. All sectors must be united on a coordination base. For this reason, the Emergency Operations Center will be built in Miragoâne. This center will provide a space to conduct operations."
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After the January 12, 2010, earthquake, the U.S. government has helped the Haitian government strengthen its emergency response capacity with respect to emergencies and natural disasters. Working in partnership with the Haitian government, including Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency, a total of ten centers will be built throughout the country at a total cost of over USD $34 million. These essential facilities will help the Government of Haiti better protect its population and respond to emergencies and natural disasters.

More People are Risking Lives in the Caribbean to Reach Safety

7/13/2012
UN High Commissioner for Refugees
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UNHCR is very concerned by the loss of life we are seeing in maritime incidents in the Caribbean among people trying to escape difficult conditions in Haiti. On Tuesday July 10, a woman drowned when a boat carrying more than 100 Haitian migrants ran aground near the Bahamas. In an earlier tragedy, on June 12, more than a dozen Haitians lost their lives in Bahamian and US waters while trying to reach the shores of Florida. These events are a reminder of the extremes that people in difficult situations sometimes resort to. Continuing difficulties in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake are leading thousands of Haitians to flee their homeland each year, often in unseaworthy vessels. Although no firm statistics exist, it is estimated that hundreds of deaths occur yearly as a result. US Coast Guard data shows that since December 2011 over 900 people have been found on boats in rescue or interception operations including some 652 Haitians, 146 Cubans and 111 people from the Dominican Republic. Inside Haiti, internal displacement remains significant with 421,000 individuals still living in camps in and around Port-au -Prince and elsewhere in the country. The political situation remains tense, and a rise is reported in criminality and insecurity. A cholera outbreak has continued.
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UNHCR is also concerned about countries that are returning the Haitians to Haiti, ignoring an earlier joint-appeal by UNHCR and OHCHR asking states not to return Haitians, for humanitarian reasons, without adequate individual protection screening. The joint call was made in view of the daunting humanitarian challenges that Haiti still faces, exacerbated by the January 2010 earthquake. UNHCR continues to advocate for the inclusion of adequate protection safeguards for individuals apprehended at sea, and hopes that such tragedies can be avoided in the future through enhanced international cooperation in the region.

OAS and IDB Join Forces to Support Training of Haitian Officials

7/16/2012
Organization of American States
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The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will train 320 Haitian officials, starting Monday July 16, through a Course in Management of Public Purchases, which seeks to realize an effective public administration, and which is a priority for the OAS and the IDB in Haiti, based on the idea that the proper management of government purchases will allow for the saving of valuable resources which can be used for other important investment projects. The opening ceremony for the initiative, which is part of the support of the two institutions for the process of modernization and reconstruction of the country, took place Friday in Port au Prince and included an address from the Prime Minister of Haiti, Laurent Lamothe. The Coordinator of the National Commission of Public Purchases of Haiti Hulze Adolphe also took part in the ceremony, as did the OAS Special Representative in Haiti, Frederic Bolduc, and the Representative of the IDB in the country, Eduardo Almeida.
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The selection of officials who will take part in the course was made by Haiti and its National Contracting Commission. The classes will be taught online in French, through the Virtual Campus platform of the OAS. The initiative is financed by the IDB and is supported by the Virtual Campus program of the OAS. The course is part of the OAS Virtual Campus portfolio, and is the fifth edition of the course. In order to support the training of public officials in key areas of public administration, the Virtual Campus promotes a dynamic and participative methodology that offers concrete tools for effective government. To achieve this goal, the OAS has made available mechanisms based on levels of participation and costs that allow government entities and other interested parties to promote training within their personnel. The Virtual Campus program, created in 2003, recently reached its 10,000th participant.

Vision of New, Modern Haiti Rises from the Rublle (7/11/12)

The Miami Herald
BY JACQUELINE CHARLES
JCHARLES@MIAMIHERALD.COM
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DELMAS, Haiti -- The building’s concrete foundation rises 40 feet in a commercial zone that connects devastated suburbs, its tall steel tendons saluting a blue sky. Haitian-envisioned, Haitian-financed and Haitian-constructed, the modern building — seven stories, with three levels of underground parking — that’s under construction is part of a new vision for Haiti, showcasing the promise and challenge facing a nation struggling to rebuild from the January 2010 earthquake. “It’s a new beginning,” said Patrick Figaro, 45, a developer of Genesis, which borrows its name from the biblical narrative about the creation of civilization. “We are not only talking about revitalizing an area, but setting the standard for the modern Haiti.” Two-and-a-half years after the 7.0 temblor destroyed much of Haiti’s capital and punched a hole in an already brittle economy, many envisioned a construction boom with dozens of projects, similar to Genesis, peppering the skyline. With $10 billion in aid pledged, the donor community had offered more than enough capital to begin a new city.
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But donor funds lagged, and the public spending needed to grow the economy has been slow to take root. Still, some like Figaro, a Haiti-born U.S.-educated architectural engineer, aren’t waiting on donors or the government to get moving. Figaro and his brothers have received help from local and international Haitian investors, one of the country’s largest banks, and hundreds of laborers. For months, their family-run construction firm, Arcotec Haiti, has been quietly transforming a little under an acre at one of Haiti’s most important strategic commercial gateways into a modern seismic and hurricane-resistant complex. Taking place largely out of public view, except for the 80-foot construction crane perched in the skyline, Genesis offers three levels of underground parking and 100,000 square feet of commercial rental space that will include a rooftop café and 25 extended-stay hotel rooms for business travelers. “This could easily be built in Miami,” said Javier Salman, the Cuban-American architect who designed the all-glass exterior, “modern, cutting-edge building” that will eventually rise 123 feet and be backlit at night. “It will be visible from the port, and from the Port-au-Prince airport. It screams, ‘Here I am.’ ” Claude Pierre-Louis, executive director of Sogebank, agrees that the structure is state of the art. “This project has a lot of imagination; it’s gutsy,’’ he said.
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But that’s not the sole reason why Sogebank decided to provide $9 million in financing, Pierre-Louis said. Genesis, which is within walking distance of Sogebank’s quake-damaged headquarters, also responds to a need for commercial space, said Pierre-Louis, who plans to lease three floors. Construction costs of the building range between $15 million and $20 million. “As a bank, we’ve always believed in the future of Haiti,” he said. That future in recent years, has included several confidence-boosting, high-profile ventures by Haiti’s private sector including E-Power, a $56.7 million power generation investment, and soon-to-open $38 million Royal Oasis Hotel, which Arcotec built. Like these entrepreneurs, observers say, the Figaros are taking a calculated risk to invest in hard assets, which require a longer than usual payback period in a country that has been unstable in the past, and whose private sector suffered $2.7 billion in losses in the quake, according to a survey by the sector’s Economic Forum. “The Figaros are a model,” said prominent Haitian economist Kesner Pharel, because of the brothers’ alliance “with international firms to bring the know-how and the best practices in the construction field in Haiti.” Haiti’s growth, Pharel said, isn’t just limited by economics, but also by the small size of its construction companies. As a result, most have lost out on the few available post-quake contracts, mostly to Dominican firms, because they lack the capacity and technical skills. “We need some great re-engineering in order to become more competitive,” Pharel said. Unlike many of Haiti’s post-quake construction projects, however, Genesis has no donor dollars. The little foreign input comes by way of its design, the international building codes to ensure that it can sustain any future quake with little or no damage and use of the Miami-Dade County hurricane code.
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“This is about reinventing our image, and trying to show the world that Haitians can build too, and they can build something that is earthquake resistant and to the right standards,” said Greg Figaro, 42, who left his healthcare consultancy business in Boston to join Arcotec as executive chairman. It’s also about reinventing the way business has been traditionally done in a country that continuously ranks at the bottom of the International Finance Corporation’s Doing Business Survey. For instance, to attract investors, the brothers formed a development company. There also is a board of directors to share in strategic decision-making. “There is a new generation in many of these family-owned groups that has come to understand the country cannot be developed without the majority of the population being a part of it,” said Ary Naim, Haiti and Dominican Republic country head for the IFC, the World Bank’s private sector arm. “They understand that everything they do has to be sustainable and inclusive.” The IFC has a $55 million investment portfolio in Haiti with several private sector partners, including the Oasis and E-Power. While unfamiliar with the Genesis project, Naim said Haiti’s private sector remains its biggest asset, especially for sorely needed job creation.
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Still, some question the wisdom of building in Delmas, a particularly hard-hit city that has become known more for its densely populated sprawling slums and traffic congestion than its redevelopment potential. Owned by the Figaro family for decades, the Genesis site was first developed in the 1970s by family patriarch Gérard Figaro. Haiti was transitioning from father to son in the brutal Duvalier dictatorship and textiles were the new market. A visionary, Figaro transformed the site into the headquarters for Citibank and Texaco. Soon, the Imperial Movie Theater arrived across the street in the mostly underdeveloped, wooded area of residential homes of well-to-do families. Years later, Sogebank built its iconic sleek and modern headquarters. The boom then turned to bust, and a lack of zoning laws gave way to slums and urban sprawl. Texaco left. Citibank stayed but the T-shaped building partially collapsed in the quake, killing several Citibank employees.
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The brothers faced a quandary: walk away or use the property once again inspire development. “It’s exactly the dream that my dad had,” said Rudy Figaro, 52, who returned to Haiti last year to head Arcotec as COO after 25 years as a software engineer in Boston. “He achieved it, from 1971 to ‘75. There wasn’t anything in that area, just a road. For us, doing something like this represents the same thing, several decades later.” But it hasn’t been easy. Everything from the soil to the weather to finding workers capable of constructing such an intricate building has been a challenge, say the Figaros. For months the project was delayed because both the site and neighboring property were occupied by quake victims. During the recent rainy season, the 120 workers on the morning shift began every day by pumping flood water off the site. “I learn every day and what I learn I share with my people,” Patrick Figaro said on a recent morning. At least a dozen workers are former tent dwellers and previously jobless. Others like Prevy Docteur are returnees from the nearby Turks and Caicos. “Coming here every day, I am happy,” said Docteur, who supervises a crew of carpenters. “There are a lot of people in Haiti with knowledge and who can work. All that’s missing is the opportunity.”

Earthquake Relief Where Haiti Wasn't Broken (6/5/2012)

New York Times
By Deborah Sontag
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CARACOL, Haiti — On the first anniversary of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, in a sleepy corner of northeast Haiti far from the disaster zone, the Haitian government began the process of evicting 366 farmers from a large, fertile tract of land to clear the way for a new industrial park. The Caracol Industrial Park is on about a square mile of former farmland. A river flows through it into Caracol Bay, which contains Haiti's most extensive mangrove reserve and a strip of coral reef. The farmers did not understand why the authorities wanted to replace productive agricultural land with factories in a rural country that had trouble feeding itself. But, promised compensation, they did not protest a strange twist of fate that left them displaced by an earthquake that had not affected them. “We watched, voiceless,” Jean-Louis Saint Thomas, an elderly farmer, said. “The government paid us to shut us up.”
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In Port-au-Prince, meanwhile, with rubble still clogging the streets, former President Bill Clinton, co-chairman of Haiti’s recovery commission, had celebrated the Caracol Industrial Park as a glimmer of hope during a ceremony cementing an agreement with the anchor tenant — Sae-A Trading, a South Korean clothing manufacturer and major supplier to American retailers like Walmart and Gap Inc. “I know a couple places in America that would commit mayhem to get 20,000 jobs today,” Mr. Clinton said, referring to the jobs that Sae-A pledged to generate over six years. In exchange, thanks to a deal that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton helped broker, Sae-A looked forward to tax exemptions, duty-free access to the United States, abundant cheap labor, factory sheds, a power plant, a new port and an expatriate residence outfitted with special kimchi refrigerators. Two and a half years after the earthquake, Haiti remains mired in a humanitarian crisis, with 390,000 people languishing in tents. Yet the showcase project of the reconstruction effort is this: an industrial park that will create jobs and housing in an area undamaged by the temblor, a venture that risks benefiting foreign companies more than Haiti itself.
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Financed by $224 million in subsidies flowing to Haiti as a result of the earthquake, the Caracol Industrial Park is hardly reconstruction in the strictest sense. Its developers, though, take the more expansive view that, in a desperately poor country where traditional foreign aid has chronically failed, fostering economic development is as important as replacing what fell down. Caracol, the promotional materials say, will help make Haiti globally competitive “without compromising on labor and environmental standards.” But an examination of the Caracol project shows that its developers played down labor and environmental concerns, accelerating the planning and vetting process in their eagerness to make the park a reality while rebuilding lagged.
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The developers — the Haitian government, the State Department and the Inter-American Development Bank — chose Sae-A despite its troubled labor relations in Guatemala, where the company closed its flagship factory last year after threatening to move jobs out of the country during an acrimonious dispute with its union. Before the Haiti deal was sealed, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. urged American and international officials to reconsider, given what it described in a detailed memo as Sae-A’s egregious antiunion repression, including “acts of violence and intimidation” in Guatemala, where Homero Fuentes, who monitors factories for American retailers, calls Sae-A “one of the major labor violators.” But American officials said they did not believe “compliance issues” in one of Sae-A’s 20 factories worldwide reflected a broader problem. Further, in choosing a site, the developers discounted the fragile ecosystem of Caracol Bay, which contains the country’s most extensive mangrove reserve and a large strip of coral reef. Before the earthquake, the bay had been picked from 1,100 miles of coastline to become the first marine protected area in Haiti, the only Caribbean country without one. “The fact of having chosen this site, I’d call it heresy,” said Arnaud Dupuy, head of Haiti’s Audubon Society. The United States Treasury Department had concerns, too. Because an environmental impact study was not done properly or far enough in advance, the Treasury, which represents the United States on the development bank board, took the unusual step of abstaining from the vote that approved the $55 million grant to build the park.
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Critics also say the State Department components of this project — a heavy-fuel-oil power plant, a dense housing complex and a port proposed for a pristine bay — betray the post-earthquake idealism about “building back better,” and that the spending of reconstruction funds in Caracol is misplaced. “I think there was emotion within State that we haven’t done anything effective in Haiti,” said Cathy Feingold, international development director for the A.F.L.-C.I.O. “There was a guilty sense that we have to do something, anything. But doing it this way is not going to be helpful to Haitians. It’s got to be done so there are living wages and the environment is healthy.” The industrial park’s Haitian promoters argue that the perfect cannot be the enemy of the good. “The magnitude of Haiti’s problems is such that any project will have some negative impact, but does one sit back and hope for the ideal situation?” asked Lionel Delatour, a business consultant. The industrial park’s backers also say that a northern manufacturing hub will create desperately needed jobs, bolster the region and help decentralize Haiti. The “urgency of the project” required some shortcuts, said José Agustín Aguerre, the Inter-American Development Bank’s Haiti department manager. “If one had to do this in the normal process of planning and then funding and then decision-making, and only then start looking for clients and only then start construction,” he said, “we would have gone 10 years without having an industrial park.”
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Still, the park, contemplated before the earthquake, gained urgency only afterward. As shelter construction lagged — the American government has yet to build and deliver a single house — Caracol became the beacon of recovery. This surprised the mayor of Caracol, Landry Colas, who said he had not been consulted about the park’s location. “I would have chosen another site, given that this one was already occupied by people earning a living,” he said. “But I’m no expert.” South of Cap Haitien and east of an intersection named the Crossroads of Death, the industrial park is vast, nearly a square mile, bisected by the Hole of the North River and fed by the Massacre Aquifer. With its big trees chopped down long ago for plantations and its small farms cleared last year, the tract resembles a gravelly lunar landscape. Its perimeter is fenced, and outside the gate, a banner drapes a church, proclaiming, “Sae-A Loves You.” In a trailer inside the park this spring, Sae-A executives sat beneath Korean and Haitian flags, taking a break from outfitting the cavernous first factory. Sae-A was in the midst of installing its own cooling system, since the factory did not come with one. “We thought, ‘Maybe they really do want us to create a sweatshop,’ ” Lon Garwood, a senior adviser to Sae-A, joked. A privately owned company, Sae-A (pronounced say-ah) produces clothing in Asia and Central America and reported $1.1 billion in export business last year. Sae-A executives said they considered themselves “frontiersmen” in coming to Haiti. “There is a big gamble and risk here if things were to go to hell politically,” Mr. Garwood said. “What has helped us to mitigate the risk is that we didn’t have to come in and build our own power plant. We didn’t have to bring in money and buy land and bring in money and build factories.” Asked about the biggest challenge facing Sae-A in Caracol, Mr. Garwood said that it was finding housing for Korean managers with families. “They prefer gated communities,” he said. “That doesn’t exist here.” Daniel Cho, president of Sae-A’s Haiti subsidiary, said: “You can see. Nothing is here.”
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When he arrived from Korea this year, Mr. Cho said, he thought, “This area is like a white paper and we can draw on it.” To Haitians, the slate is anything but blank. The land has a history of agrarian struggle, alternating between “peasant occupation and peasant eviction,” says the farmers’ compensation plan. Unknown to senior American officials, the site is associated with foreign exploitation. During the United States occupation in the early 20th century, it harbored the Chabert Post, where the Marines ran a prison labor camp infamous for brutal treatment of captured rebels, said Laurent Dubois, author of “Haiti: The Aftershocks of History.” One rebel leader, Charlemagne Péralte, an iconic figure in Haiti immortalized on a coin, was initially buried on the property in an unmarked grave. Residents reclaimed the land from the sisal and sugar cane plantations in 1986, after the dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier fell from power. They divided it into hundreds of small farms, many paying yearly rent to the government and some others squatting.
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The Catholic priest of Caracol said the site’s history is embedded in “collective memory.” “The new factories, they will bring jobs, certainly,” said the priest, the Rev. Joseph Francis Du Village. “But the workers will hear the echoes of the past.” In 2009, after a spate of devastating hurricanes, Mr. Clinton was appointed United Nations special envoy to Haiti and adopted the “build back better” mantra he would cite after the earthquake. When appointed, he expressed both affection for Haiti, dating from a trip with his wife after their wedding, and guilt for crippling Haiti’s rice industry by trade policies during his presidency. That fall, his charity, the William J. Clinton Foundation, and the Inter-American Development Bank lured hundreds of potential investors to Port-au-Prince for what they called the biggest trade conference ever held there. The idea of a new industrial park was much discussed, but finding financing was considered daunting. “And then came the earthquake, and an immense show of solidarity and will from development bank members to have a bigger program,” Mr. Aguerre of the development bank said. The development bank pledged $2 billion in new grants to Haiti over a decade. Congress appropriated $1.14 billion for reconstruction, much of it set aside for debt relief, health care and food and justice programs. About $412 million was allocated for reconstruction itself, which became a fluid concept, with more than a quarter devoted to Caracol. “Obviously, there was no earthquake here,” Michaël de Landsheer, a senior Haitian official, said. “But in a sense everything in this country after the earthquake is reconstruction.” Cheryl D. Mills, Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff and counselor, said the government’s experience in previous disasters suggested that “we must invest in jobs and economic growth while rebuilding physical infrastructure.” Rebuilding, though, was frustrated by slow rubble removal, difficulties with securing land and institutional problems. A Government Accountability Office report says that less than 1 percent of the $412 million had been spent 16 months after it was allotted.
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The report placed some blame on staffing issues. After the earthquake, it said, 10 of 17 Agency for International Development officers left Haiti, and the agency was slow to recruit replacements, like contracting officers, needed for the rebuilding effort. Initial work on the industrial park was more diplomatic than technical. The idea was that trade might be able to accomplish in Haiti what aid had not. Export processing zones are nothing new for Haiti. Haitian business leaders speak nostalgically of the booming garment assembly industry of the Duvalier era, when an American government report declared Haiti’s potential to become “the Taiwan of the Caribbean.” But that era’s factories, based in Port-au-Prince, lured tens of thousands of job-seekers, spawning one of the hemisphere’s most miserable slums, Cité Soleil. And they did not spur broader development, reduce poverty nationwide or prove sustainable, said Yasmine Shamsie, a Canadian expert on Haiti.
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Professor Dubois said he saw the industrial park idea as “tired.” “The way I see it, in a deep, long, historical way, Haiti was founded by ex-slaves who overthrew a plantation system and people keep trying to get them to return to some form of plantation,” he said. “There have been cycles of this type of project, where the idea is that foreign investment will modernize the country. But things have gotten progressively worse for Haitians.” Caracol’s backers believe their collaboration will produce better results. They have been negotiating with an Asia-based furniture company and a Haitian paint company, seeking to diversify the tenants beyond the garment assembly plants known as maquiladoras. “Creating an exclusively garment maquiladora zone is something everyone — I wouldn’t say tries to avoid, but considers last resort,” said Mr. Aguerre, the development bank manager. “But to be honest, in a country like Haiti, maquiladoras are a good opportunity, a quick employment generator. Yes, it’s low-paying, yes, it’s unstable, yes, maybe tomorrow there will a better opportunity for firms elsewhere and they will just leave. But everyone thought this was a risk worth taking.” In spring 2010, Mr. Clinton and Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff set out to woo the apparel industry, armed with Congressional legislation that enhanced the special access of Haitian-produced apparel to the United States market. When Mrs. Clinton made an official visit to South Korea, Sae-A executives were summoned to the American Embassy in Seoul. Sae-A’s chairman, Woong-ki Kim, had been scouting Haiti as a factory location since 1991, and Ms. Mills urged Sae-A to explore his interest more deeply. The exploration proved dispiriting. A Sae-A feasibility study read more like a “no-feasibility study,” Mr. Garwood said. “It was almost humorous, like David Letterman’s Top 10 reasons why we shouldn’t invest in Haiti.” Among the obstacles was uncertainty about whether Haiti’s minimum wage for textile workers, scheduled to increase to $5 from $3.75 a day this October, would continue to rise, Mr. Garwood said. In the late summer, Mr. Garwood, who used to be an agent in Korea for Liz Claiborne Inc., got a call from Paul Charron, its former chief executive and a friend of Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Charron advised Mr. Garwood to “whittle down the list of obstacles because people in D.C. are really serious about making this happen.” They were serious because far more advanced negotiations with another Korean garment firm, Hansoll Textile, were on the verge of breaking down. Sae-A executives whittled fast. By late summer, they were flying with their investment plan to Washington for a meeting with Mrs. Clinton and other international officials in a historic treaty-signing room on the State Department’s seventh floor. “We then went through the document and they kept saying, ‘We can find a way to overcome this and this,’ ” Mr. Garwood said. “We would say, ‘We could probably do a factory with about 3,000 to 4,000 people.’ They’re like, ‘Wow. What would you need to make it bigger?’ I said, ‘If we could get a loan for the machines, we could probably double that.’ They said, ‘What about 10,000?’ We said, ‘If we didn’t have to worry about purchasing the land, if we didn’t have to build the factory shells, then we could double it again.’ That’s where the 20,000 jobs figure came from.”
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Eventually, the Haitian government would agree to provide the land, the development bank to finance everything inside the fence for $100 million and the American government to spend about $124 million on the power plant, housing and port. Sae-A, in turn, would commit to investing $78 million. In a loan application, though, it estimated its initial investment, mostly in equipment and operating funds, at $39.3 million, and it pledged to build a dyeing and knitting mill when it broke even. It also promised to build a school. In September 2010, Mrs. Clinton joined Mr. Kim and others for a signing of their memorandum of understanding in New York. A former Haitian prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, Mr. Clinton’s co-chairman on the recovery commission, called it “a great day for Haiti.” After the signing, labor groups, alarmed at the choice of Sae-A, started documenting their concerns about a company they perceive very differently than American officials.
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Gail W. Strickler, for instance, the assistant United States trade representative for textiles, says she considered Sae-A “an exemplary corporate citizen.” In contrast, Scott Nova, executive director of the Workers Rights Consortium, calls the company “a big player in a dirty industry with a track record that suggests a degree of ruthlessness even worse than the norm.” In December 2010, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. sent the park’s backers a five-page memo summarizing what it called Sae-A’s “worst labor and criminal law violations” in Guatemala. It accused Sae-A of using bribes, death threats and imprisonment to prevent and break up unions and said a local union suspected company officials of involvement in a union leader’s rape never investigated by Guatemalan authorities. Mr. Garwood said there was no evidence of violence or threats of violence by Sae-A. He acknowledged that some company officials — “bad eggs” — suppressed a unionization drive at its flagship Guatemalan factory in 2005. That year, in an episode described in an American diplomatic cable, Sae-A managers, assisted by the police, detained 16 pro-union petition signers and threatened arrest if they did not resign. Most did; the rest were jailed. Gap Inc., a client of the factory, intervened. The workers were ultimately permitted to unionize, the cable said, pronouncing the American Embassy “extremely pleased with how this problem turned out.” Guatemalan union leaders, however, said in interviews that hostility toward the union never diminished and that working conditions remained tough. One leader, Delfina Vincente Yac, 26, said supervisors, cursing, drove workers at an unrelenting pace and routinely proposed “incentive pay” for sex. Alejandro Argueta, a lawyer who worked for Sae-A and then for its unions, said the company had “seldom met legal requirements.” He said that in 2009, when the union, emboldened by a government ruling, started pressing Sae-A for unpaid wages, bonuses and benefits, the situation deteriorated. According to the formal minutes of a labor-management meeting, a Sae-A executive accused union leaders of saddling the company with expenses that would force the factory’s closing. “It should be made clear,” the executive said, “that the members of the board of directors would simply go to work in another country and the real losers would be the workers.” Mr. Argueta filed criminal cases in Guatemala against Sae-A for antiunion discrimination and discrimination against women. (The cases never went anywhere.) He also appealed to Gap, writing, “The production of Gap clothing is being carried out amidst screaming, threats and even in some cases assaults on workers.” At the end of 2009, Gap ceased production in Guatemala.
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In early 2010, discord erupted into days of protests, quelled by a battalion of riot police. After that, Mr. Argueta said, “a series of harassments and persecutions began, more forceful than you can imagine, against all of us.” Before long, almost all the union leaders had accepted money to quit, Mr. Argueta said. Ms. Vincente Yac, then pregnant, said a factory manager offered her $2,500 to quit “for your good and the good of your baby” or risk being “chopped into little pieces.” She held a news conference instead, after which she was denounced by company officials over the factory loudspeaker, Mr. Argueta said, and his office was ransacked. Mr. Garwood denied the allegations by union leaders, saying the company never threatened or engaged in violence. Although no longer producing there, Gap sent monitors who suggested managerial training about verbal, sexual and psychological abuse, freedom of association and dismissal policies. A follow-up visit in December 2010 found the training done and the atmosphere improved but only seven union members remained — according to an e-mail from Gap that Sae-A forwarded to American officials days before the Haiti deal was signed. State Department officials said that when they learned the A.F.L.-C.I.O. report was being prepared, they had started asking embassy officials in Guatemala, trade officials and garment industry leaders about Sae-A. They found only some “compliance issues” that had been remedied, they said. They acknowledge that they did not, as Ms. Feingold of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. put it, “hit pause” and conduct a full inquiry into the allegations.
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In the fall of 2011, Sae-A closed its flagship Guatemalan factory. A local newspaper reported: “A Maquila Closes and Goes to Haiti.” Mr. Garwood attributed the closing to rising costs in Guatemala, saying, “There’s a lot of price pressure from our American retailers to keep prices low and competitive.” Sae-A had already been shifting production to lower-cost Nicaragua, where labor groups also report antiunion repression. Once trade preferences expire in Nicaragua in 2014, Mr. Garwood said, Sae-A hopes “a lot of product orders now going to factories in Nicaragua can go through the Haiti operation.” American officials said Sae-A would be closely monitored in Haiti because of trade legislation requiring stringent scrutiny through an American-financed inspection program. But Yannick Etienne, a Haitian workers’ advocate, said “it remains to be seen” whether the inspection program will have “any teeth.” She and American labor advocates worry, too, that Caracol will undermine the nearby Codevi industrial park, the only unionized garment operation in the country. Fernando Capellán, the owner of Codevi, said, “They’re going to destroy my jobs to create cheaper jobs in Caracol.”
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Building back better was supposed to put Haiti’s perennially neglected environment front and center. “Every reconstruction project should be judged in part by whether it advances environmental protection,” Mark L. Schneider, senior vice president of the International Crisis Group, said in Congressional testimony. It shocked environmentalists when they learned Caracol would become home to a giant industrial park. Caracol Bay had relatively intact offshore mangroves, fringing coral reefs and critically endangered species like the Atlantic leatherback sea turtle and the black jewfish. It also had a vibrant but threatened fishing industry and potential for tourism, between its reefs and its rich history: it is believed to be where Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria, ran aground. “Caracol is not only sensitive from the point of view of biodiversity, it’s the birthplace of the New World,” Mr. Dupuy of the Audubon Society said. Before the earthquake, environmentalists had designated Caracol Bay to become the country’s first marine protected area. The park imperiled a crucial conservation effort, the president of the Global Environmental Facility, the leading public funder of environmental projects, wrote in a letter to the development bank president. But it was the Haitian government that had selected the site, the development bank said, after an American consulting firm, scouting northern locations, included it among the top three options. The government-owned Caracol site was considered to have the best soil and water resources, which was also why it made good farmland. The consultants acknowledged later that they had done no environmental analysis before making their recommendations. In January 2011, the same consultants returned to do a more in-depth study, required for financing. This time, they sounded some alarms, upgrading the project from moderate to high risk, citing the probable influx of job-seekers and the fragility of the bay. They said that the bay would be endangered even if the wastewater were treated and that the threat to the ecosystem and the aquifer needed further study.
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An additional environmental strain is posed by the American-financed power plant, which will burn heavy fuel oil. Although it is the most polluting option, it was selected to make electricity affordable to Haitian consumers, American officials said. Still, the State Department’s environmental consultants cautioned that the plant, once at its maximum capacity, would exert a “strongly negative” impact on air quality. Dismayed by the industrial park’s location, Haiti’s environment minister, Joseph Ronald Toussaint, said he is nonetheless trying to create a “win-win situation.” Summoning environmentalists and developers to Port-au-Prince, he called for proper drainage, waste treatment and waste disposal as well as for a regional master plan, which a nonprofit affiliate of the American Institute of Architects was hired to do. Some global environmental officials said the architects’ group was being asked to create a plan to accommodate decisions already made.
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But Erica Gees, managing director of the architects’ group, said, “We could spend a lot of time dwelling on whether it’s the right place or the wrong place or we could move forward and help the Haitian people.” A major challenge will be managing the expected surge in population. How the American-financed housing project fits into the picture is unclear. Though advertised as “within commuting distance” of the Caracol Industrial Park, the project is not being described as workers’ housing by the American government. State Department officials say the favored beneficiaries are quake victims who fled north although they do not know how many remain there two and a half years later.
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While an American plan to construct 4,500 houses across the country was approved by Haiti’s recovery commission in December 2010, the first contracts were not signed until this April — and for only 906 houses, mostly in Caracol. Asked why it took so long, Ms. Mills said, “Building housing for new neighborhoods takes time and involves frequent consultation with communities and their leaders to refine layouts, designs and engineering.” Because of community input, for instance, the new houses will be much larger than planned, although still quite small: 365 square feet for families averaging five to six members. In contrast, the American Embassy in Port-au-Prince is set to build town houses of 1,400 to 2,690 square feet each for its own personnel. The budget for the 750 concrete-block houses in the Caracol area is about $20 million. The budget for the embassy complex, which will have 86 to 100 town houses and recreational amenities, is $85 to $100 million. Described by American officials as a cost-efficient use of space, the Caracol housing project is criticized as “extremely dense and monotonous” and “violating numerous principles inherent to sound urban design” by Greg Higgins, an architect who wrote a scathing peer review.
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Sandy, slow-paced Caracol contains two hamlets whose names sum up the dirt-poor area’s economic identity to date: Caracol-Fish and Caracol-Bananas. The incongruous billboards for the shiny, new industrial park trumpet the change that the 15,000 local residents hope for and fear. “My dream,” said Mayor Colas, “is that this becomes a different city, better than what we have been, a city of the future. My nightmare is that we become Cité Soleil, a giant slum.” Mayor Colas, who has attended several signing ceremonies with international officials, said he has felt on occasion as if they were using him. “They stop by City Hall, they greet me, but there’s no relationship,” he said. “Foreigners know more about what’s going on in Caracol than I do.” Next to City Hall, a cheery, American-financed kiosk promises, “All information is free.” So, initially, was the labor of the kiosk’s two community liaisons who worked there daily for the first four months of this year without seeing a paycheck from the government. That made them increasingly blunt with the thousands who made job inquiries. “We now tell people we don’t know what is done with their applications,” Suzanne Pierre, 32, who lost her husband to the earthquake, said before she was finally paid in mid-May. Feeling that nobody had spoken frankly to the local people, a 29-year-old Baptist pastor named Lyvinx Joseph called a recent meeting at the church outside the industrial park’s gate. He wanted to lower expectations, he said; Caracol residents had been waiting with increasing impatience for the 20,000 jobs to materialize while Sae-A will hire only about 1,500 workers this year.
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Mr. Joseph told his audience he felt caught between allegiances. He said he was a “Sae-A man” now, one of 20 Haitians recently returned from a company apprenticeship in Nicaragua. He was also a Caracol native whose father was “dispossessed” of his farmland. “If I remember correctly, the Sae-A offices are located precisely where my father used to cultivate sweet cassava,” he said. The Haitian government paid the farmers for the harvest they lost and promised them alternative land elsewhere. All the farmers interviewed said they were frustrated being idle and had already burned through the cash. “The problem is that money has no roots,” Mr. Saint Thomas, the elderly farmer, said. “A banana tree? Cut the fruit, it grows again. Money — once you use it, it’s gone.”
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After the meeting, Mr. Joseph confided that his experience in Nicaragua had been disillusioning and said he would quit his job with Sae-A as soon as he found a replacement. “The way the Koreans treat the Nicaraguan workers is awful,” Mr. Joseph said. “They just treat them like nothing. Just: ‘Do your job. If you don’t do it, I’ll call somebody else to do it.’ But he did not divulge this at the meeting. As women fanned themselves and men mopped their brows, Mr. Joseph urged the people to push — nonviolently — for their right to benefit from the park that might bring pollution and outsiders to their community.“If you were the first to lose,” he told them, “you should be the first to gain.”
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Kara Andrade contributed reporting from Guatemala, and Brent McDonald and André Paultre from Haiti.
A version of this article appeared in print on July 6

Haitian Families Begin Making the Move From Camp to Community

7/2/2012
IFRC
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Most people living in the various camps for internally displace people (IDP) in Port-au-Prince have the same wish: to someday say goodbye to the four plastic walls that they have called home for the last 30 months. For Roblin Emilio that day has finally come. Roblin who has lived in Camp Dadadou since the 12 January, 2010 earthquake is finally leaving the camp to go back to Les Anglais, which is located in the south of Haiti close to where he grew up. “I lost my home in the earthquake and most of my belongings. Whatever was left that the earthquake didn’t destroy, thieves came and took,” he said. “I wanted to stay near my house, to guard what we had left but I had no where to sleep. So, we came here.” Before becoming an IDP camp, Dadadou, which is located in Delmas 2 , was a sports center where people from the Delmas would come and play basketball and soccer. Today, every inch of this once popular place is covered with tents and makeshift houses. As part of their camp decongestion program the Haitian Red Cross, in partnership with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, is working to provide housing solutions to those living in the camp.
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The program aims to relocate all 150 families that have been living on this site. Roblin said: “The Red Cross agents came and they handed out flyers that told us about the different options we could chose from. I chose to go back to the provinces because there is nothing left for me here.” This single father of four lost his wife three months after the earthquake. She died in the camp from the injuries she suffered when their home collapsed during the earthquake. A month after her death, Roblin suffered a stroke which partially immobilized his right side. Unable to work, it has been a struggle for him to provide for his family let alone find the means to move them from the camp. “I can’t work. I can’t do anything,” he said. “That is why I am going back to my hometown because there, at least, I have family. I should have never come to live in Port-au-Prince. Port-au-Prince took my wife and paralyzed me.” Camp Dadadou is one of the camps in Port-au-Prince that did not benefit from any sort of support after the earthquake devastated many parts of the city leaving thousands of people homeless and injured. More than two years after the tragedy many people still find themselves in camps with no hope of being able to rent a home. Activities such as the Red Cross decongestion program have given people the means in which to leave camps and start picking up the pieces of their former lives. “This is the first time that an organization has come here to do anything for us. For months after the earthquake organizations would come and look around and say that they would be back but they never came back,” Roblin said. “I think that the Red Cross is doing great work. They actually came back when they said they would.”

Displacement Crisis Nears End in Jacmel (7/3/2012)

In an effort to restore the lustre of Haiti's cultural capital, Jacmel, IOM and Sean Penn, Ambassador-at-Large for Haiti and founder of J/P Haitian Relief Organization (J/P HRO) are working on a project to re-house the last families made homeless in Jacmel by the 2010 earthquake. The project aims to close the last two of 36 displacement camps established after the July 2010 earthquake and relocate families still living in them to safe homes. Each family will be provided with a year's rental allowance and receive additional financial support, which includes transport assistance to help move their belongings from the camps to their new housing.
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The numbers of families in Jacmel's camps has fallen rapidly since the launch of the IOM - J/P HRO project at the end of May. A month ago IOM's June IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix recorded 2,891 people still housed in four camps in the historic port city. At the peak of the emergency, upwards of 10,000 people, or some 2,000 families, were homeless in the 36 camps. The Haitian Government and local authorities in Jacmel anticipate immediate benefits from relocating the residents from camps."What is happening in Jacmel demonstrates our intention for the whole country. We're working to help every family, close every camp, and move on from the earthquake by giving our cultural capital a fresh start," said Harry Adam, Executive Director of Haiti's Government Housing Unit (UCLBP.) "J/P HRO has collaborated with IOM since the earthquake," said J/P HRO founder and CEO Sean Penn. "When the Senators and Deputies of Jacmel said closing the last remaining camps was a priority need for their community and asked J/P HRO's assistance, we turned to IOM to help these families leave the mud floors and leaky tarps of the camps and find and secure housing quickly and effectively."
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The relocation process began with IOM staff informing the camp residents about the project. Heads of households were provided with special ID cards (Last Mile Mobile Solutions - LMMS) developed by World Vision International, and all beneficiaries' information and relocation intentions were registered through J/P HRO's high-tech iPod based system, designed to streamline future relocation projects and reduce operating costs. The relocation process is scheduled to continue through July, with monitoring visits to follow in August and September, after which all remaining families will have been re-housed. Camps in Jacmel will then close, thereby ending the plight of earthquake affected people in Haiti's South East Department. Jacmel, a city of over 41,000, is slowly rebuilding, but the homelessness and suffering of those in the camps have blighted efforts to get the city's important tourism sector revitalized. Because many of the displaced have been living on Jacmel's two football fields, sports have also been impacted.
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"Large historical areas of Jacmel were virtually demolished by the quake," said IOM Haiti Chief of Mission, Luca Dall'Oglio. "Helping to get it back to its feet as a thriving cultural centre is one of our objectives in helping the homeless to find alternatives to the camps." The government of Haiti is investing $20 million to make the city more accessible and to improve its infrastructure in order to turn Jacmel into one of the pre-eminent tourist destinations in the country. Jacmel is best known for its handcrafts, its extraordinary carnival tradition, and its historical architecture, including its famed gingerbread houses. As part of the government's revitalization plan, the historic centre of the city will get a long awaited makeover, with repairs made to the damaged resorts, shops and impressive arts-teaching centre in the heart of town. In addition, the local airport is expected to reopen soon. Two hours by car over the mountains from the capital, Port-au-Prince, Jacmel has a rich colonial history. Despite the poverty and economic collapse, the atmosphere of the old town has changed little since the late 19th century when wealthy coffee merchants lived in gracious mansions which influenced the architecture of New Orleans. Jacmel has been tentatively accepted as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
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Founded by Sean Penn, J/P HRO began its work hours after the earthquake hit in January 2010 with the goal of helping to lift the nation of Haiti out of the rubble and give the Haitian people a better future. To learn more go to: www.jphro.org
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For more information please contact Leonard Doyle at IOM Haiti. Tel.+ 509 3702 5066 - Email: ldoyle@iom.int

Civil Registry Project Concludes in Haiti 6/30/2012)

Caribbean Net News
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PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti -- On Saturday, the modernization and integration of Haiti’s civil registry project, financed by the government of Canada and implemented by the Organization of American States (OAS), will conclude its current phase of activities in Haiti. Since 2005, the OAS, in partnership with the government of Haiti, has provided technical support to the Office of National Identification (ONI), which has issued national identification cards to 5,054,214 adults to date. The identity cards feature biometric security measures and a unique national identification number and can be used to vote, conduct commercial transactions and apply for government benefits. To achieve this result, the project has invested in building ONI as a functional institution, training more than 2,000 staff and providing equipment and technology to the 141 offices throughout the country. ONI is a key player in Haiti’s electoral process. Since 2006, the ONI provides the necessary civil registry information to the Electoral Council (CEP) to support the generation of the electoral list for five separate electoral processes. In anticipation of the partial legislative, municipal and local elections, ONI, with project support, has purchased materials to produce up to 450,000 new identification cards and is doubling the capacity of the automated fingerprint identification system to 10 million registers, a key step to preparing for the future.
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An important component of reforming civil registry in Haiti is a modernized birth-registry process that brings services closer to the people. The project in partnership with the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJSP) launched a registration of newborns campaign in which civil registry offices were placed in maternity wings of two inner-city hospitals of Port au Prince. Within a span of nine months, registration rates doubled and 14,198 newborns received a birth certificate, granting them the right to an identity. Nevertheless, a number of legal, procedural and economic factors make civil identity elusive for a significant number of children in Haiti. Following consultations with civil society and with the technical support of the Quebec National School of Public Administration (ENAP) the project has drafted and made available to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security legislation to make the civil registry system more efficient, transparent and nondiscriminatory. At the National Archives of Haiti, the project is putting in place a searchable civil registry database. Once complete, this tool will help prevent identity fraud and reduce month-long wait times to receive essential documents related to identity, and ultimately allow for better government planning. To date, 16,270,884 birth, death, marriage, divorce and adoption registers have been scanned, but more work is needed, particularly in data entry. The national institutions intend to continue work at a reduced scale, despite the conclusion of the project. This project has been made possible through a contribution of $15.6 million from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) from 2008 to 2012.

Innovative Program Brings Lights to Town in Haiti (6/30/2012)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Solar streetlights are being installed throughout Haiti as part of an innovative program that aims to catalyze the decentralization of government services. The Minister of Interior and the Collectivities, Thierry Mayard Paul, has launched a program to mount lights in towns such as Leogane, St Marc, Miragoane, and Ft Liberte that will soon expand throughout Haiti. Under the auspices of Katye Pam Poze (My Neighborhood is Calm), the installation has brought light for the first time to town squares, marketplaces and streets in a country where most citizens have no regular access to electricity. Mayard Paul says that the Katye Pam Poze program "aims to improve the living conditions of thousands of Haitians through simple, inexpensive measures. My intention is to continue until the town squares in at least one city in each of Haiti's ten departments are lit at night." Haiti suffers from the lowest coverage in the Western Hemisphere, where barely 12.5% of the population has regular access to electricity. The country has an installed capacity of only 270 MW and nearly all of it is generated by three large thermal plants. Alternative energy sources in Haiti have been contemplated for several years and more so following the January 12, 2010 earthquake.
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Citizens in the towns where the lights were installed claim that they feel much safer at night. A man in Leogane whose motorcycle broke down on the very night the lamps were being installed said, "Thanks to the lights the mechanics were able to work very late to fix my bike in a zone that was long considered very unsafe." Local officials are also pleased with the arrival of the lamps. According to Alexis Santos, the Mayor Leogane, "The lights allow residents to frequent areas that they had rarely visited at night because they were so unsafe." Haiti is not alone, similar solar lighting projects are being tried the world over. In India the government has installed solar lamps in 54 villages throughout the country. More recently the Mexican government installed solar lamps just in time for a major international gathering. Solar lamps have proven to be an effective way to respond quickly to citizens who have both energy and safety issues affecting their quality of life.

Fast Facts on the US Government's Work in Haiti (6/28/2012)

Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
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Prior to the January 2010 earthquake, the power sector in Haiti was among the most problematic in the Western world. Only an estimated 25 percent of the population had access to electricity services―leaving an estimated 7 million people without power. The average person in Port-au-Prince only had access to electricity 10 hours per day, and half the population was illegally connected to the power grid. The fragile power sector has faced further complications due to the earthquake. Access to electricity in rural areas remains at approximately 5 percent, and combined technical and commercial losses of electricity are approximately 75 percent, according to the World Bank. To maintain its commercial operations, Electrite d'Haiti (EDH)―the electrical utility―requires an annual Government of Haiti (GOH) subsidy of more than $120 million, representing approximately 12 percent of the national budget.
USG Strategy
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Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Government aims to improve access and reliability of electricity in Haiti. USAID is working in support of the GOH to modernize the electricity sector and expand the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity in targeted economic corridors and associated un-served communities.
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Accomplishments
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Transition Management Contract: A key component of the reform of the energy sector is to build an efficient and financially sound sector. USAID has awarded a contract to a private, third-party utility operator to manage EDH operations and improve systems during a transition period and develop options for the long-term operation of the system. The future management of the energy sector will be decided by the Haitian government’s Council for Modernization of Public Enterprises (CMEP).
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Caracol Industrial Park Power Plant: Under the first-phase, USAID is constructing a 10 MW power facility to provide electricity to the new Caracol Industrial Park, being built with support from the Inter-American Development Bank, and surrounding housing settlements. The Caracol Industrial Park will employ up to 65,000 Haitians once completed; and the power facility, with the first-phase scheduled for completion by the middle of 2012, is a key component of the park. The power generation will be expanded to at least 25 MW to meet projected industrial and residential demands.
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Electrical Substation Rehabilitation: Based on assessments conducted after the earthquake, the repair and upgrade of five substations in Port-au-Prince were identified as critical priorities for the electrical sector. The underperformance of these substations is drastically reducing the system’s capacity for transmission and distribution of electrical power. USAID is supporting their rehabilitation in order to reduce losses and strengthen EDH system capability to serve its customers effectively.
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Alternative Energies: In coordination with the Government of Haiti, Haiti’s private sector, and Haitian civil society, USAID’s “Improved Cooking Technologies” program will establish a local market as well as a sustainable industry for clean cooking solutions, including Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and improved biomass cookstoves. USAID is also studying the feasibility of solar panels on the Caracol Industrial Park industrial buildings to supplement generation with clean energy. The U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is undertaking wind, solar, and solid-waste-to-energy studies to determine the feasibility of renewable energy options in Haiti.

Number of Haitians Displaced by Quake is Falling (6/26/2012)

Associated Press
By TRENTON DANIEL
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The number of people living in the precarious settlements that became glaring symbols of the Haitian earthquake's devastation has dropped below 400,000 for the first time since the January 2010 disaster, according to an aid group's report released Tuesday. The International Organization for Migration says there are now 390,276 people living in the precarious settlements that were erected in the aftermath of the earthquake. This figure is down from the high of some 1.5 million people who were staying in the camps six months after the quake. It is also a drop of 7 percent from April. The reduction in the camp population is attributed to a combination of forced removals, rental subsidies and voluntary departures, but it is not clear where the bulk of the people have gone or if their living arrangements are better than the camp conditions.
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A government relocation effort conducted with the migration organization offered people $500 rental subsidies for a year but the project targeted only 5 percent of the camp population. "As for the rest we don't know," said organization spokesman Leonard Doyle. "A lot of these people we know have pitched tents on the side of the mountains." Even before the quake, many people in the crowded capital of Port-au-Prince built ramshackle homes on hillsides due to a lack of affordable housing for the poor majority. The housing issue remains hot. On Monday, more than 1,000 protesters blasted a reported government plan to evict renters from their shanty homes to reforest the hillsides. The organization's figures were released following a three-day visit by its director general, William Lacy Swing, who is a former U.S. ambassador to Haiti.

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